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Dan Carter Named Business Person of the Year

Posted by Dan Carter | Posted in News | Posted on 26-09-2011

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Cristal Crimi    September 26 2011 Metroland

From rags to riches, a local man shares his story

DURHAM — The Simcoe Street historic building that Channel 12 sits in today has a story not too unlike that of its present owner, Dan Carter. The historic building started off with a life full of promise, only to fall into a state of disrepair, before receiving a second chance to serve a cause that may never have seemed imaginable.

The same can almost be said about Mr. Carter, the man responsible for bringing the downtown building back to life and earning this year’s Business Person of the Year title from the Greater Oshawa Chamber of Commerce.

“He’s just a committed individual to his community,” said Bob Malcolmson, CEO and general manager of the chamber. From being lucky enough to be adopted by the Carter family when he was just a baby, Mr. Carter grew up struggling with learning disabilities, the shame of being secretly raped by a stranger, and the death of his brother. At age 13, his life began a downward spiral of drug and alcohol abuse which would take him into his early 30s, and see him living on the streets of Toronto in 1991 — sleeping on park benches and underneath bridges.

But, as he recently sat in a suit and tie, sipping a cup of coffee and looking out the wall-size window front of his Simcoe Street studio, he was nothing but grateful for the life and chances he has received.

“This year’s been a pretty spectacular year for me,” Mr. Carter said, sitting on a couch in the Simcoe Street building he has put about $1 million into.

Mr. Carter started in the television world after getting cleaned up at a rehab centre in L.A., thanks to the support of his sister, who would later take her own life.

An aspiring, but “horrible” actor, Mr. Carter was encouraged by a friend to embrace his ability to speak to anyone and pursue a career in television news. He got an internship at CTV doing menial jobs, and it was there that the suggestion was made for him to make a pitch to Rogers, which he did. He found himself in a $75-a-day job with Rogers doing the Dan Carter show. While there, he made use of another piece of advice he received from CTV — to make himself as visible as possible in the community. He began making a name for himself by speaking at, attending and being the master of ceremony for events whenever he was invited.
In 1999, Mr. Carter started with Channel 12. He was told they had no money, a 150-square-foot space at Wilson Road and Wentworth Streets that was “horrid”, but would pay him a portion of their revenue share.

“I think I made $8,000 that first year,” he said, adding the support of his wife allowed him to take that financial risk.
What the opportunity gave him was the chance to do his own commercial programming.

Then, about 16 months ago, Channel 12 said it was looking to change how it does television and asked him how serious he was about working with them. He shared his visions for the company, Oshawa’s downtown, and what he was willing to do to make it happen. He made the gesture to provide the current space for Channel 12 and in doing so, be its exclusive production company locally. His long-term vision includes creating an eastern Ontario news network.

He chose the current location because of its central location in the region, along with its visibility to those passing.
“I knew that this particular building was a good investment for me,” he said, adding the owners wanted to unload the building and it needed lots of tender loving care, allowing him to pick it up at a good market price.

It also allowed him to have credibility when he’s talking about the importance of revitalization and leadership. He speculated that Oshawa has big things coming in the next 10 years.

“It’s not about what makes me money,” he said. “I always say to people do what you believe and the economics will follow.”
Some of his next plans include getting more artists working on the sidewalks and free concerts in downtown Oshawa. Attracting more people to the downtown will help attract more customers and, in turn, advertisers, he added.
“People investing in downtown, the time is now,” he added. “Because by 2015, you won’t be able to afford to.”
But news is only part of his business. Mr. Carter is also a public speaker, travelling all over Canada and speaking professionally about leadership and mental health and addiction. He aims to reduce the number of suicides which occur each day — such as the day his sister took her life.

He gives back to the community as well, through initiatives such as The Hope Centre of Learning, which he and his wife put $250,000 of their own into and raised money for, the Isobel Carter Youth Fund in honour of his mother, and a $20 challenge which has raised thousands to help charities and the personal mission of people through Durham.

“And he’s always giving of his time,” Mr. Malcolmson said.

Mr. Carter said it’s nice the Chamber has recognized his team’s commitment and vision and all the work that has been done.
“I don’t look at this as a Dan Carter moment, I look at it as a team moment,” he said.