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How do we retain talent in KW?
#1
Downtown BIA commits $300K to Queen Street upgrades

I found the following comment by Communitech’s CEO, Iain Klugman, interesting:


Quote:However Klugman said the biggest challenge for local tech companies at the current time is talent retention and that there needs to be a focus on the non tech-related elements of building a great community. He believes we’ll continue to see further arts and culture investments from the private sector.

So, how do we retain talent in KW?  I don't know what their needs are but I would guess that quick and easy access to Toronto would be a plus.  Also an airport with more destinations.  Some years ago I read that some of the better paid people were complaining that there aren't enough "high end" properties for sale.  I don't know if that's still an issue for some but many of the new condo developments could address that issue.  A good theatre company and a convention centre would also help.  What else??
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#2
I thought this was a great post, something I've also wondered, and that it deserved it's own thread
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#3
It's not only about retaining talent; talent will stay if there is a strong sense of belonging, a true community where you can connect with your neighbours whether living in a suburb or in a downtown. A community where culture and diversity is embraced and fostered... we're moving there but there's a long way to go.
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#4
(01-17-2018, 01:36 PM)jgsz Wrote: So, how do we retain talent in KW?  I don't know what their needs are but I would guess that quick and easy access to Toronto would be a plus.  Also an airport with more destinations.  Some years ago I read that some of the better paid people were complaining that there aren't enough "high end" properties for sale.  I don't know if that's still an issue for some but many of the new condo developments could address that issue.  A good theatre company and a convention centre would also help.  What else??

I don't claim to have all the answers, but here's my thoughts. People have historically said that KW is "a good place to raise kids", which is sort of boring. When I talk to people I try to say "it's a good place to raise kids but also a good place to not raise kids" and how there are more restaurants now than there used to be. (Ironically, I don't go to restaurants as much as I used to, despite not having kids). I'm pretty sure culture, arts, dining, and other such amenities would help. Not sure about the airport; it's hard to seriously compete with YYZ. "High end" properties is something I can't really imagine.
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#5
Who among the new talent can afford high end anyway? Takes a while to get to that point. I've been out of school for 8 years and my last job interview was for a job that paid what I made from my first job - and in Toronto besides.
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#6
It could actually branch into a couple questions:
A) How does KW retain talent in KW?
B) How do Employers retain talent in KW?

There's definitely value in both.
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#7
I think local tech retaining talent is pretty simple (but not easy):

1) Pay people something in the same ballpark as U.S. salaries.
2) Reliable frequent adequate speed transit to and from Toronto and maybe the airport.
3) Anything to make the area less boring, and for the non-boring things to be accessible without a car.
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#8
(01-17-2018, 02:38 PM)urbd Wrote: It's not only about retaining talent; talent will stay if there is a strong sense of belonging, a true community where you can connect with your neighbours whether living in a suburb or in a downtown. A community where culture and diversity is embraced and fostered... we're moving there but there's a long way to go.

What are the shortcomings, in your opinion?
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#9
(01-17-2018, 10:41 PM)panamaniac Wrote:
(01-17-2018, 02:38 PM)urbd Wrote: It's not only about retaining talent; talent will stay if there is a strong sense of belonging, a true community where you can connect with your neighbours whether living in a suburb or in a downtown. A community where culture and diversity is embraced and fostered... we're moving there but there's a long way to go.

What are the shortcomings, in your opinion?

In short, Kitchener-Waterloo are boring cities overall. There's not much to do besides going to a bar, restaurant or movie. Culture as almost everyone has said is clearly lacking. The universities are isolated, students struggle to become part of the community and just want to leave when they graduate (this is changing for the better, for sure). There's just not enough variety of activities, but that could just be because of the size of the cities. But in short, and as a young professional, this place can be pretty boring.
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#10
(01-18-2018, 10:32 AM)urbd Wrote:
(01-17-2018, 10:41 PM)panamaniac Wrote: What are the shortcomings, in your opinion?

In short, Kitchener-Waterloo are boring cities overall. There's not much to do besides going to a bar, restaurant or movie. Culture as almost everyone has said is clearly lacking. The universities are isolated, students struggle to become part of the community and just want to leave when they graduate (this is changing for the better, for sure). There's just not enough variety of activities, but that could just be because of the size of the cities. But in short, and as a young professional, this place can be pretty boring.

Continued: I find myself wanting to go to Toronto almost every weekend for nightlife (Chainsaw and Phils don't cut it after a while) - especially for the LGBT community, there's literally zero options here. Also the lack of art exhibits and attractive events that are not only 'family friendly fun', etc. As someone said earlier, KW are known to be good cities to raise a family, and I could see that... but for a lot of young professionals that is just not part of the equation yet.
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#11
(01-18-2018, 10:32 AM)urbd Wrote:
(01-17-2018, 10:41 PM)panamaniac Wrote: What are the shortcomings, in your opinion?

In short, Kitchener-Waterloo are boring cities overall. There's not much to do besides going to a bar, restaurant or movie. Culture as almost everyone has said is clearly lacking. The universities are isolated, students struggle to become part of the community and just want to leave when they graduate (this is changing for the better, for sure). There's just not enough variety of activities, but that could just be because of the size of the cities. But in short, and as a young professional, this place can be pretty boring.

Not to be contentious, but I'm reminded of something the late UofW Professor John New told me when I was an undergrad  - "There are no boring places, only boring people".  Forty years later, it still comes to mind.

In any event, I agree that if tech workers are leaving the Region due to lack of amenities to keep them interested in living here, then the Region and municipalities (and the tech sector itself) need to be treating this as a priority.  However, if the complaint is mainly about the lack of nightlife, I'm not sure what can be done as this is a matter for the private sector and I'm not aware that they are unduly constrained by local policies, although I recall that Kitchener has had issues from time to time about the concentration of drinking establishments in the core.
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#12
(01-18-2018, 10:32 AM)urbd Wrote:
(01-17-2018, 10:41 PM)panamaniac Wrote: What are the shortcomings, in your opinion?

In short, Kitchener-Waterloo are boring cities overall. There's not much to do besides going to a bar, restaurant or movie. Culture as almost everyone has said is clearly lacking. The universities are isolated, students struggle to become part of the community and just want to leave when they graduate (this is changing for the better, for sure). There's just not enough variety of activities, but that could just be because of the size of the cities. But in short, and as a young professional, this place can be pretty boring.

It depends on what you want to do.  Sure, we don't have pro sports (not many cities our size do) but we do have a number of theatres, a symphony orchestra, Centre in the Square, and a bunch of museums (some of them with rotating exhibits).  Perimeter Institute has regular events as do the universities.  Some great urban parks, lots of countryside for outdoor activities and two farmers' markets. And lots of festivals in the summer -- the Kitchener Blues Festival particularly is a pretty big deal.

These are non-boring things to me.  But different people find different things boring or interesting. And it may be that nothing we have here is interesting to you in particular.
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#13
We think on the same lines - K-W is a terrific town for fans of classical music, for example.

One thing we do lack is a venue (arena) large enough to attract "big name" concerts.  I do think that both Kitchener and Waterloo could be trying harder to get the out-of-town university students more involved in local life, although how specifically to go about it I am not sure (more weekend events with big student discounts? volunteer recruitment drives directed at the university population?).  I do know young men who have left Kitchener for Toronto to take advantage of the "bigger dating pool" (or at least they thought they would Smile  )
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#14
I have seen Sting at the Aud, and somewhat smaller names at the Centre in the Square. But admittedly this does not happen often.

Getting more students engaged with Waterloo Jazz and Kitchener Blues would be huge. Yes, the students are mostly in Waterloo so that's an excuse for KBF, but even so they should be promoting those events on the campuses.
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#15
Is K-W's proximity to the GTA actually an impediment to becoming a big concert market? It seems like a lot of shows go to London, then directly on to the GTA, but maybe that's just due to not having the right sort of venue here.
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