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Windsor, Ontario (May 4-6, 2011)   


In efforts to promote the expansion of international commercial relationships, the Christian Embassy, the interdenominational, nonprofit organization which provides networking services to diplomats, government and business, held its 9th Annual Ambassador Tour in Windsor, Ontario. These visits, consisting of only two or three Ambassadors per group, offer Heads of Mission a uniquely personalized opportunity to become well-acquainted with the local business community. This was Ambassador Bahah’s inaugural tour and his diplomatic colleague was HE Milan Kollar of the Slovak Republic.

Sometimes called the City of Roses, Windsor was first settled by the French in 1749 as an agricultural centre. It is the southernmost city in Canada with a mild climate ideal for the growth of grapes, hops and barley leading to the creation of distinctive brews and wines. Agriculture, however, was long ago eclipsed as the pre-eminent local industry by the automotive sector. For decades a section of Windsor was simply known as Ford City. Today, the economy base is also comprised of education, tourism and government services; but the automotive industry and related product manufacturing remains vibrant, and is closely intertwined with the massive automotive sector just across the bridge in Detroit. The city also attracts many immigrants with over 20% of the population being foreign-born, making it the most diverse city in Ontario, outside of Toronto.

Accompanied by Christian Embassy staff, Gerry Sherman and Robert Montgomery the Ambassadors arrived in Windsor in time for lunch at the Toscana Restaurant where they were joined by members of the Host Committee; following which, they toured Canadian Electrocoatings Ltd, a member of the Narmco Group (www.narmco.com), receiving an overview of the company by senior executive about their painting, metal stamping and assembly facilities.

They then visited St Clair College of Applied Arts and Technology (www.stclaircollege.ca) discussing the importance of international recruiting. Continuing the academic theme, the group visited the University of Windsor to meet with numerous professors and MBA students at the Odette Business School (www.uwindsor.ca/business). This provided the Ambassadors with the opportunity to showcase their countries, sparking dynamic discussion.

As an innovation way to truly familiarize the Ambassadors with the community, their accommodation was hosted by local residents. Ambassador Bahah, along with Gerry Sherman of the Christian embassy, were guests at the home of Tom Smith. It was an exceptional experience and Ambassador Bahah stated that many 7-Star Hotels could learn a lot about hospitality from the Smith family!

Following family breakfast, the Ambassadors toured the plastic injection mold manufacturer, Crest Mold Technology (www.crestmold.com) and Sellick Equipment, (www.sellickequipment.com) who are manufacturers of forklifts. The afternoon brought tours of the Diagnostic Imaging Centre of Windsor Hospital (www.wrh.on.ca); and the New Canadians’ Centre of Excellence, (www.ncce1.org), an organization dedicated to the integration of refugees and immigrants socially, culturally and economically into the Windsor region. The day concluded with dinner at the elegant Windsor Club with prominent business leaders.

Friday, was the final day, but the schedule was no less impressive. A formal breakfast was held at the appropriately named “Ambassador Golf Club” (www.ambassadorgolfclub.com), Over 100 dignitaries, business people and politicians were treated, upon arrival to the extraordinary talents of bagpiper Tom Fox, followed by welcoming speeches and presentations by the Ambassadors.

Next was a visit to Maranatha Christian Academy (www.maranathachristian.ca) where the Ambassadors were received with great interest from the students. Following lunch at Armando’s Cabana, they toured Anchor Danly, (www.anchordanly.com), industrial metal suppliers; and finally, visited Sterling Fuels, (www.mcasphalt.com) a petroleum products distribution company.

The purpose of these tours is to expose Ambassadors to an exciting array of Canadian industry, promoting international networking and economic opportunities. However, the incalculable value lies in the ensuing cross-cultural dialogue that takes place. It is by fostering the enduring understanding that our similarities far exceed our differences, that we pave the short road to friendship and cooperation.

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