Windsor’s pro-Chrysler campaign gaining steam, says mayor
The Windsor Star/Grace Macaluso
At least one local businessman is jumping on the city’s bandwagon after it ran ads in two national newspapers touting support for Chrysler’s multi-billion dollar investment in Windsor and Brampton.
Don Jarrold, general manager at Tilbury Concrete, said Friday he sent Mayor Eddie Francis an email in which he offered to use two recently purchased cement trucks as moving billboards.
“We’d like to put on a message urging people to support the government to finance the Chrysler deal,” said Jarrold. “I’m asking Francis, ‘what would you like us to do?”
Chrysler is in discussions with the federal and provincial governments for economic incentives of at least $700 million for an investment exceeding $3 billion at its Windsor and Brampton assembly plants, with about $2 billion of that amount intended for retooling in Windsor for a new global platform for the next-generation minivan and other vehicles.
The city’s ads, which ran Wednesday, were in response to comments Ontario Conservative Leader Tim Hudak made Friday to the Toronto Board of Trade, slamming the “extortion” efforts by Chrysler to obtain large taxpayer-funded subsidies in order to provide further investments at its Ontario assembly plants. Hudak called on Liberal Premier Kathleen Wynne to “get out of the handout business” and to refuse any taxpayer-funded “ransom” being sought by Chrysler CEO Sergio Marchionne.
Francis said the ads, which outlined the auto sector’s importance to Ontario’s economy, have generated a lot of positive response from the business community as well as interest from news media outlets across North America.
“I’ve heard from industry leaders telling us it’s great we took this step,” Francis said. “The ads put into perspective the auto industry is not about Windsor or Brampton, but the entire province.”
Francis said he has yet to decide whether to continue the ad campaign, which cost about $18,000. He also said he has not heard directly from Hudak, although the Tory leader did have a telephone conversation Matt Marchand, president and CEO of the Windsor-Essex Regional Chamber of Commerce.
Hudak called Marchand after receiving a written invitation to “meet with you and your staff to discuss ways we can work together to further Ontario’s important automotive sector.”
“He called me the same day and I appreciated Tim taking time out of a busy day to discuss important issues,” said Marchand. “We exchanged views and had a very cordial, good conversation.”
During the 15-minute talk, Marchand highlighted “the worldwide trend of extreme competition for auto investment because of the industry’s value.”
Marchionne has said he would take his investment elsewhere if he is unable to reached an agreement with Ottawa and Queen’s Park.
Jarrold said he hopes other local businesses will get involved in the push for the Chrysler investment. “Chrysler is one of the biggest employers around. If it left, it would affect every level of life in the city of Windsor.”
The image below is the ad placed in the National Post and Globe & Mail on Wednesday, February 26, 2014