Georgian alumni add $1.4 B to regional economy
May 18, 2021
Georgian creates value in many ways and influences the lives of our students, alumni, employees and the regional economy.
According to a recent economic impact study by Economic Modeling Specialists International (EMSI), Georgian College campuses contribute $1.7 billion in income to the Georgian catchment area economy, approximately 5.3 per cent of the total gross regional product. This equates to 22,752 regional jobs, or one out of every 15 jobs in the catchment area. Student spending adds $64.4 million in income, while alumni impact accounts for $1.4 billion!
gross regional product (GRP)
For every $1 . . .
Below you will find stories of Georgian alumni or local employers who hire Georgian alumni in each of our campus communities. Learn how they contribute to our economy as business owners and operators, and how their Georgian experience prepared them for their careers.
Forty per cent of Innovative Automation’s workforce have one thing in common: they’re Georgian College alumni.
Business co-owner and Vice President of Sales Matthew Setterington is one of them. He says having a college in the community is critical for training and retaining their base of almost 150 employees.
He credits the co-op program as a great introductory point between Georgian students and the advanced manufacturing firm. The company focuses on cross training during co-op work terms so students become well-rounded and try every facet of the business, from wiring to machining to design and programming.
“Not only do we get to try the student but they also get to try us,” says Matthew. “It’s our job to make sure we provide a work environment that challenges these young people and makes them want to stay.”
Matthew relocated to Barrie himself, from southwestern Ontario in the 1990s to study Mechanical Engineering Technology at Georgian, and settled in the area after graduation. As a fan of downhill skiing and mountain biking, the community offered everything he was looking for.
When Georgian alumni join the workforce of local companies like Innovative Automation, they give back in other ways too.
“One of our core values is giving back to our community and contributing in a meaningful way to societal change,” says Matthew. Employees regularly host barbeque lunch fundraisers, take part in campaigns for United Way and Big Brothers, and each time the company celebrates a five-year anniversary, staff are given a paid day to volunteer with local charities.
The education, workforce and community cycle is one that Matthew is proud to be part of.
Chris Edwards, President and CEO of Weber Manufacturing Inc. in Midland recognizes Georgian’s role in growing the local economy.
“We rely on Georgian to develop skilled trades workers to support our advanced manufacturing facility,” Chris explains. “Georgian has very relevant courses and applied learning within the classroom and work placements. Without the local college, I feel we would have difficulties finding enough skilled workers in the surrounding area.”
Weber is a fully-integrated, world class tooling manufacturer in aerospace, building products and automotive markets.
The organization currently employs 224 people across five plants – three of which are in Midland. Chris says 17 per cent of people on Weber’s payroll have completed a skilled trades or diploma program at Georgian with half of those taking part in a work-integrated learning experience, such as a co-op work term, at Weber.
“Of the 11 people on the senior management team, including myself as President, seven have a diploma from Georgian,” says Chris. “The Business Administration – Accounting program provided me with a strong foundation to kick start my career in accounting, which led me down an exciting path of continuous education.”
Chris is quick to point out the value of local postsecondary training. “We find that hiring from Georgian, we have a better retention rate of employees,” he explains. “They want to live, play and work in the Midland area.”
Chris Madden, founder and President of Tamarack North Ltd. located in Port Carling, hires many Georgian alumni and apprentices from skilled trades programs. About 20 to 30 per cent of his 120-member workforce has obtained their General Carpenter Apprenticeship licence from Georgian’s Muskoka Campus located in Bracebridge.
As someone who specializes in home construction, Chris knows a few things about building community.
“When you’re building a community, you need many things in place, like churches, schools, banks, grocery stores and recreational opportunities,” says Chris. “And if you didn’t have a community college you’d be missing a critical component for your community to be as successful as it can. It allows people to get an education locally and hopefully stay in the community once they’ve graduated. And when they can live at home and not disrupt the family unit, they’re more willing to get the licence.”
He encourages all his newly hired carpenters to enroll in Georgian’s apprenticeship program. “It gives our employees a classroom environment to learn about safety and all the skills – how to handle tools, cutting stairs, cutting rafters – essentially learn everything about the trade so when they come back to the site they can apply their knowledge. It also gives them a sense of pride and accomplishment to achieve the certification.”
Lori Ciappara, owner and Director of Operations for Comfort Keepers in Orangeville never planned to open her own health-care business, but 21 years and one pandemic later, she says it’s the best decision she’s ever made.
Lori is a graduate of Georgian’s Personal Support Worker (PSW) program and has always enjoyed being around seniors and wanted to improve their quality of life. She employs 72 staff and approximately 10 to 20 per cent of her PSW workforce are fellow Georgian graduates.
“We’re so fortunate, especially in the field I’m in, that we have a college in our city that offers both the PSW program and the Practical Nursing program,” says Lori. “I chose Georgian because they had a program that was local and allowed me to continue working while learning.”
She never planned to start her own business, but she had a family reach out to her that needed in-home care for their mother and required more care than one PSW could provide. “I reached out to some amazing co-workers and formed a group of caregivers to help me support this client,” says Lori. This was the start of Compassionate Care Health Services.
In 2008, Lori joined the Comfort Keepers franchise and purchased the Orangeville, Shelburne, Caledon, Bolton, Alliston, Beeton and Tottenham territories.
Lee Johnston says he discovered it all at Georgian: a program to enhance his skills, experiences to prepare him for the real world, lifelong friendships, connections that would benefit him long after he graduated, and love – he met his wife Joanne in an elective course.
The Orillia-born alumnus and graduate of Georgian’s Hospitality Administration – Hotel and Resort program has had a keen interest in business and passion for the hospitality industry for a long time. Now he and his wife own and operate Cavana Ridge and Atelier Hair, an award-winning spa and salon in Orillia that employs 30 staff, including two hair apprentices from Georgian.
“Georgian is strong and reputable and any time someone applies, their resumé is the first one we look at,” notes Lee. “As an employer, I’d prefer to hire from the college if we can.”
Lee and his wife combined their passions and purchased the bed and breakfast in Orillia and invested their entire savings renovating it into an upscale experience: the Cavana Inn. The pair grew it into a combined spa and salon – before realizing they’d outgrown their dreams. With long wait lists and no more room for expansion, they acquired a larger commercial property which became Cavana Ridge and Atelier Hair.
“We tripled our business opportunities overnight when we bought the new property, but, like everyone else, many of our plans were put on hold this year,” Lee says. “We very much look forward to serving our community and continuing to grow our business in the city we love.”
Tracee Givens wasn’t sure what career path she wanted to take as a high school senior but a Business – Accounting program and a part-time job working weekends in the kitchen of a local nursing home began her 40-year passion for long-term care.
Now she’s the Executive Director at Maple View Long-Term Care in Owen Sound with 40 employees – 20 per cent of which are graduates from Georgian’s nursing and Personal Support Worker (PSW) programs.
“We’re lucky to have a local college that offers programs that benefit our organization, and we understand the importance of supporting each other because it benefits us both,” says Tracee. “Georgian has been able to help with our staffing needs and we’re able to offer placements for Georgian students. We want them to succeed and hopefully they’ll see there’s good local employment for them as well.”
She’s also excited about Maple View’s involvement in a new 160-bed state-of-the-art facility being built in Owen Sound. “This will mean the potential for more future collaboration with placement and job opportunities for PSWs, nurses, dieticians and also good for the trades,” says Tracee.
South Georgian Bay
Jo Redman and Anna Watson, principal partners of interior and architectural design firm Redman Watson Inc., met on their very first day as students at Georgian and it was fun at first sight. They discovered a shared passion for interior design in a program that prepared them to launch their own business upon graduation.
They maintain offices in their home towns of Collingwood and Horseshoe Valley.
They started their postsecondary journeys as mature students who both had young children. “This was another reason we bonded,” says Jo. “We both liked that Georgian allowed us to stay close to home, look after our family and still go to college.”
They quickly found their individual niche in the partnership. “We worked well together and we each brought something different to the table,” says Anna. “Jo is really great at space planning while I get more into the details like designing millwork.”
Jo and Anna started the firm when they were in their third year of the program. “We still had young kids and were already planted in our communities,” says Jo. “Plus, we knew there was a need for our type of services, especially in Collingwood. We’ve had a very successful 19 years so far with a full client list.”