Windsor-Essex ranked fifth among most affordable communities to do business

Friday, July 15, 2016

The Windsor Star/Chris Thompson

The Windsor and Essex County region has ranked as the fifth most affordable municipality to do business in Canada in the second annual ranking of municipalities in Canada’s Best Places to do Business by Canadian Business and PROFIT magazines.

The region came in 25th in the overall survey of municipalities.

“It’s an honour to be recognized nationally as one of Canada’s best places to do business,” said Rakesh Naidu, interim CEO of the WindsorEssex Economic Development Corporation.

“When presenting to potential investors we are proud to promote the many assets of the Windsor-Essex region.”

Windsor-Essex finished fifth last year, and Naidu was hoping for a better result.

“There’s a lot of room for improvement, for sure,” said Naidu.

“I think in several different ways. Access to market, the taxes, the time it takes for someone to get a building permit. It’s a measurement of various things that determines how well we score.”

Naidu said providing timely information to potential investors is key on subjects such as the availability of serviced land.

One area that Naidu has no control over, however, is the cost of electricity in Ontario, which is often seen as an impediment.

“What we are doing is to continue to bring that to the attention of provincial ministers, be it the Minister of Economic Development or the Minister of Energy. So they’re very aware of the issue and it also has led to some issues with our existing employers looking for investment opportunities elsewhere.”

Windsor-Essex came behind first-place finisher Granby, Que., Chatham-Kent, Joliette, Que. and Orangeville.

“In addition to affordability we include the fact that Windsor-Essex offers an excellent quality of life, small city feel with big city amenities, motivated skilled workers, housing costs among Canada’s most affordable, a low Canadian dollar, highlight our unbeatable location with access to U.S. markets, the fact that our serviced land costs is among the continent’s most attractive and position our region as the gateway to North America,” Naidu said.

The survey said the following about the region’s economic initiatives: “Windsor is connected directly to the U.S. border and already handles one-third of all Canada-U.S. trade. The Gordie Howe International Bridge, when it opens in 2020, will increase that capacity further. Fiat Chrysler has invested $2 billion in retooling its Windsor auto assembly plant.”

For special amenities the survey notes: “Windsor has 30 marinas along 100 miles of shoreline, and is home to the Windsor International Aquatic and Training Centre. It hosts Caesars Windsor Hotel and Casino, and a wine route of 19 wineries.”

The overall winner of Best Place to do Business was Grande Prairie, Alta.. All of the top six finishers were in western Canada.

Chatham-Kent ranked 13th.