Windsor-Essex gets boost for automotive innovation

Marco Mendicino, parliamentary secretary to the Minister of Infrastructure and Communities, speaks at the Institute for Border Logistics Security in Windsor on September 6, 2019. Photo courtesy City of Windsor.

The long history of the automotive industry in Windsor-Essex is entering a different chapter.

FedDev Ontario, a federally-funded program designed to promote business innovation and growth in southern Ontario, has announced a $5 million investment to grow an automotive innovation cluster in the region. The announcement was made by Marco Mendicino, parliamentary secretary to the Minister of Infrastructure and Communities, at an event Friday at the Institute for Border Logistics Security in Windsor. The funding was announced on behalf of Minister Navdeep Bains of Innovation, Science and Economic Development.

Among those attending were Dr. Robert Gordon, the new president of the University of Windsor, Dr. Douglas Kneale, U of W provost; Windsor Mayor Drew Dilkens and Stephen MacKenzie, president and CEO of the Windsor-Essex Economic Development Corporation (WEEDC).

The $5 million is expected to help Windsor-Essex make the transition from traditional automotive manufacturing to a more diverse auto industry, which involves advances in mobility, automation and smart technology. The WEEDC will partner with businesses and institutions to advance automotive technology and work with the university and its Cross Border Institute to strengthen international supply chains.

Mendicino, who is also the federal MP for Eglinton-Lawrence and a U of W alum, said such an investment is vital to moving the region through the 21st century, and that diversification of industry is the key.

“Economic diversification and growth are what keeps our communities strong and resilient,” said Mendicino. “Windsor-Essex is an integral region for economic development, trade and partnerships, and collaboration on this exciting new initiative is key to the region seizing new opportunities afforded by the innovation economy.”

Dilkens concurs that the region must be willing to push the envelope.

“This is an exciting opportunity for Windsor and Essex County to not only build upon our strengths but do so with a view to the future,” said Dilkens on his official City of Windsor web page. “We know that continued economic prosperity in our region depends on our ability to be innovative. It also requires a strategic and concerted effort by everyone.”