Five New Businesses to Set Up Shop

Thursday, July 19, 2012

More than 100 jobs coming to Windsor-Essex

By Dave Hall, The Windsor Star

Five new businesses bringing more than 100 jobs to the region are expected to be announced in the next few months, says the CEO of the Windsor-Essex Economic Development Corporation.

Speaking at the corporation's annual general meeting Wednesday, Ron Gaudet said the new businesses "further help diversify our economy and expand our regional capacity for job attraction and investment."

While declining to disclose names of the companies, Gaudet said three are in the life sciences sector, one is involved in advanced manufacturing and the other in automotive information and communications technology.

The companies collectively expect to have 250 employees within their first year of operation, he said. "They're a combination of startups and existing businesses who are expanding into the region."

The first announcement is expected within six weeks, Gaudet.

The five are among 58 files currently being handled by the development corporation's staff, he said. "Of those in the pipeline, some are in the very early stages and some are much further along. Clearly, some will fall off but, with that many in our files, we're confident we'll have more announcements to make in the future."

Joe Byrne, incoming chairman of the corporation's board of directors, said the competition for jobs and investment is stiff and requires year round efforts to close such deals.

"You can't overestimate how much others jurisdictions are doing and spending," said Byrne, who replaces Lindsay Boyd. "They are, in some ways, buying jobs and we're competing in that environment as well as we can.

"We have to continue working at a local level to retain jobs and investment while also being in play on the national and international stage," he said. "It's very important that we keep all our local resources in play to attract investment to the region."

In the two years since the corporation released its regional economic road map, more than $73 million has been invested in the region. This has created more than 1,300 jobs at 10 new companies.

In terms of business retention and expansion, WEEDC says it has helped facilitate growth at more than 300 companies and the retention of more than 6,000 jobs in two years.

More than 500 jobs have been created by 410 small startups which have been aided by the corporation's small business and entrepreneurship centre. The centre has handled more than 28,000 inquiries in the past two years and conducted more than 1,700 consultations with entrepreneurs interested in launching their own businesses.

"When I'm asked for business advice, I tell people to try and turn their hobbies and passions into businesses and many people do that," said Byrne, a partner in Hickey Byrne Barristers. "But for those that can't, we must be there to help them in other ways by attracting new jobs and new investment."

In other business, the corporation named Steve Bradie, CEO of Green Shield, and Jim Lynn, president and CEO of the United Communities Credit Union, to the board of directors.

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