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Interview with Durham Centre for Social Innovation

Posted by Dan Carter | Posted in News | Posted on 18-01-2011

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by APRIL CULLEN

In late December, I had the pleasure of interviewing Dan Carter of Dan Carter Productions (CHEX TV Durham), to get his take on the developments in Oshawa’s downtown core, his thoughts about the future, and his plans for the new location of his studio in the heart of downtown.

The organization moved into the new studio and offices in September, 2010. Located on Simcoe Street, steps north of the four corners, the new location seems like a risky venture to the casual observer. Many people still view the downtown as a less desirable place to do business, despite the efforts of the GM Centre, local merchants, and the UOIT commitment to establishing a presence there. Not so, according to Dan, who explains that the relocation has been not only a great business decision but a real boost to morale for the staff who work there, and a welcome store front addition to the developing buzz in the creative community happening in the downtown these days.

Dan brings a new way of thinking that is refreshing. He believes strongly that the opportunities to develop the downtown community are endless, and just waiting to be uncovered. On the business end, Dan states that this was a good investment, and a very attractive one, considering the UOIT study that projects the needs of both the university and the City into the future, in this area. With $1 million invested in the downtown, he is confident that this has been the best investment for Dan Carter Productions, in terms of visibility, accessibility to the public, and the connection to the energy of the students from the university’s new downtown campus locations.

There is much more to come. Projections include 6,000 students in the downtown core in two years. The enthusiasm is contagious, and Dan has no doubt that wise investors will capitalize on the amazing deals to be had leading up to the explosive growth expected in the near future. “The best days are still ahead of us”, claims Dan. “The time to commit is not twelve months from now, not twenty-four months from now; it is right now.” His plans include working with partners, such as the local business community, the university, and the Economic Development departments of the City of Oshawa and the Region of Durham, to tap into their marketing expertise, and ensure the local economy benefits from events such as Frosh Week and other student-oriented activities. Additionally, he sees the arts and culture community working with commerce, to establish a hub for creative and musical endeavours.

While this is a commercial good news story, the real message that Dan carries forward is the commitment to community development. He has made a long term commitment to the downtown, both financially and personally. Traditional corporate thinking does not understand the value of community building, and this is a prime example of what this term actually means. The financial investment is positive, but the impact on the local economy and people is the true benefit.

Although Dan Carter Productions is a for-profit company, the effort to make a difference in the way the community functions and interacts, sets it apart. Community Economic Development (CED) is all about influencing the community in a positive way, through both commercial and social enterprise. The promotion of the creative economy, the interaction between the various sector of the community, and the ability to be more inclusive and accessible as a media influence, all contribute to CED as it applies to the downtown in Oshawa. These initiatives should be celebrated and encouraged. All sectors should be included at the table.

This blog will be looking for other examples of CED, and the people who are making a difference in the community. Please share your stories by e-mailing me at aprilcullen@socialinnovationdurham.ca. I will follow up any suggestions, and provide readers with interviews and profiles of others who are contributing to this movement.