Development corp interim CEO makes some New Year's resolutions

Monday, January 4, 2016

The Windsor Star/Carolyn Thompson

The Star asked the interim CEO of the Windsor-Essex Economic Development Corporation to spell out his economic development resolutions for the year ahead. Here are some of the areas Rakesh Naidu says are a priority for WEEDC in 2016.

Lose Weight

Naidu says the auto industry is moving toward more lightweight products that help cars achieve a higher mileage per vehicle. “It creates a significant amount of opportunity for our companies, all the way from product development, product engineering, tooling opportunities, materials,” he says. Focus on that sector will be done in partnership with the university and college as well as existing companies, to encourage outside businesses to see the potential in Windsor.

Be Creative

Naidu says the coming year will see the development corporation focus on expanding the use of 3-D printing on a large scale, also known as additive manufacturing, in Windsor. “That’s another really exciting area that is tied in with auto manufacturing and manufacturing in general,” he says.

Stay Healthy

The development corporation is focusing on collaborations with hospitals, the University of Windsor, WEtech Alliance, Transform Shared Services, and other agencies in the area to promote economic growth in the life sciences. Naidu says that can include clinical trials, production of medical devices, research and development. “These are some of the areas we think we can grow into, become stronger,” he says.

Get Moving

With the completion of the Herb Gray Parkway and work starting on the new bridge, Naidu says transportation is an area of huge opportunity. “We are already working on a very significant initiative in this sector to promote more transportation and logistics,” he says, adding an announcement is expected to create infrastructure to promote the region as a great place for logistics. He says a new initiative will focus on providing companies in transportation, logistics and warehousing with benefits for choosing Windsor, as well as programs to spur more investment in the region.

Focus on Food

Naidu says agri-business and food processing is the second most important industry in the region, after manufacturing. The corporation will be seeking opportunities to make local companies more profitable, including helping companies expand their product exports. He says that will include a focus on some key sub-sectors: nutraceutical and functional food.

Make More Friends

After a year marred by leadership and funding scandals, Naidu says it’s time to focus on improving collaboration and get rid of duplicated work. “We are the regional lead economic development organization. It’s really in our benefit to continue to work very collaboratively this year,” he says. That includes keeping services focused on the client and working closely with other economic development agencies. “It’s important to know that yes, this year there have been some distractions but next year we have a very strong plan created,” he says. “Staff and I are very optimistic about much better results than this year. There’s a lot to look forward to.”