Fantetti Named Region’s First Business Ombudsman

Saturday, December 7, 2013

The Windsor Star/Ellen van Wageningen

Service, service, service.

That’s the message the WindsorEssex Economic Development Corporation wants to send to the region’s business owners and potential investors with the announcement Friday that it has a business ombudsman.

She is Marion Fantetti, who has been working behind the scenes with the corporation for the past two years. Her experience navigating government channels goes back 20 years, most of which she spent in the local offices of Liberal area MPs and MPPs, including her current boss, Sandra Pupatello, who is WEEDC’s chief executive officer and was previously an Ontario cabinet minister.

Fantetti will be the regional point person for helping businesses navigate government bureaucracy — whether it is local, provincial or federal — and get answers quickly. Her appointment was announced Friday at press conference attended by Windsor and Essex County municipal chief administrative officers and representatives from the offices of some local MPs and MPPs.

She will work with them to make sure businesses get good service from every level of government, she said. “Ultimately, we’re doing this because we need to make this region the most business friendly anywhere and we need the world to know that.”

Windsor has made changes in recent years to make it easier for businesses to deal with city hall, but there’s room for improvement and a new approach, said CAO Helga Reidel, who pledged her support.

A regional business ombudsman “gives us more strength off the bench. That’s going to give us another arrow in our quiver to keep and attract businesses,” said Essex County CAO Brian Gregg.

“It is very helpful for the business community to have a point person to deal with different (government) organizations and departments,” said Matt Marchand, president and CEO of the Windsor-Essex Regional Chamber of Commerce. “Most people don’t know what to do or who to call. To have a point person, it saves time and money.”

“We think this system will be a big differentiator for this region,” said Pupatello, who called it a first for Canada.

She said the cost of creating the new position is coming out of the corporation’s existing budget, which is funded by Windsor and Essex County.