Local development corp pursuing $2B battery manufacturing plant

The Windsor Essex Economic Development Corporation Small Business Centre, December 23, 2016. (Photo by Maureen Revait)

An international company that manufactures batteries is considering the Windsor-Essex region for a $2 billion investment.

The Windsor Essex Economic Development Corporation has submitted a bid and participated in multiple stages of the company’s search for the right location for its plant.

“There’s no guarantee that we get it and there’s still a number of stages to go but we are progressing well,” said WEEDC Executive Director Stephen MacKenzie. “We are working with local partners and provincial and federal partners and to our knowledge and according to the federal government the stage that we’re at in moving this forward is the farthest along that any negotiations for a potential battery plant in Canada from an international company have come.”

If the plant were located here, it’s estimated it would create around 2,000 direct jobs.

“It’s a big deal by itself, but if we can land our province, our region a cornerstone foundational company like a battery manufacturer and then you have those spin-off effects in the supply chain then we can really secure the economic future for our region for the next generation,” said MacKenzie.

The company has indicated to WEEDC they would like their new plant to be up and running within the next two to three years. However, the current global pandemic and border restrictions are slowing down the process.

“Certainly they’re not going to make a $2-billion decision without being on the ground and meeting the local partners and potential vendors and government officials. So it’s interfering in that way. It may delay the project a little bit,” said MacKenzie.

However, he said local auto manufacturers have demonstrated operations can continue smoothly under the current restrictions.

MacKenzie estimates the company is about half-way through its process but there is no way to estimate when a decision will be made.