Oshawa Chamber earns Innovation Award for orientation experience event ’22

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Published May 2, 2023 at 2:08 pm

‘Year One’ of an annual event to welcome the new crop of students from Oshawa’s three post-secondary institutions earned the Greater Oshawa of Commerce the Chair Award for Innovation at the Ontario Chamber of Commerce’s annual general meeting in Niagara Falls on the weekend.

It also got Oshawa chamber CEO Jason King a little “choked up” during his thank you speech.

The idea of a party in downtown Oshawa for the incoming cohort of new students in the city to make them feel comfortable enough to stay after graduation was born from an Ontario Tech University survey that provided “compelling feedback” that new students would value an improved introduction and connection to Oshawa.

The chamber and the Downtown Oshawa Business Alliance were then brought into the discussion and King took the idea to Oshawa Council, who pledged their support, calling it a “good business investment.”

The event happened in September on the first weekend after Labour Day with concerts, activities and other events designed to welcome new students from Ontario Tech, Durham College and Trent University.

“The strategic view of this event is to look at 2022 as ‘Year One’ of an annual event, which would have the ultimate goal and long-term effect of introducing students to local business and cultural activities to make Oshawa feel more like home, perhaps permanently, for the students,” King said of the thinking behind the orientation project.

The chamber and its event partners were tasked with creating unique culinary, recreational and ‘culturejamming’ experiences for the new students and it was successful enough to earn accolades from the provincial body, as well as ruffle the usually un-ruffleable King while he was at the podium in Niagara Falls.

“My words got jammed up because my mind was racing, thinking of all the people who went all in to support this project; no matter how preposterous it sounded at first. The power of community in action is absolutely awesome,” King said on social media. “We are deeply grateful for the support of our partners, sponsors and everyone who helped make the Oshawa Orientation ‘22 event a success. This award is a testament to the hard work and dedication of our entire community, and we are proud to be part of the exciting things happening in Oshawa right now.”

King, who said plans are well underway for Oshawa Orientation ’23, gave a special shout-out to his senior team of Isabelle Foley, Krista Licsi and Kyle Kornic.

To see a video of the event, visit Oshawa Orientation ’22

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