Building on our strengths: 'future-proofing' Windsor's economy

Tuesday, January 15, 2019

CBC News


With General Motors pulling out of Oshawa and closures slated for Ford plants, it can be hard to look on the bright side in the automotive industry.

But in Windsor, mayor Drew Dilkens said the auto show each year brings an element of excitement.

"We know that when the automotive sector succeeds, so does our community," said Dilkens from the Windsor booth on the exhibitor floor at the North American International Auto Show (NAIAS). 

"It's been our bread and butter for so many years. There's this excitement to see what's next, what's new and figure out how we can be a part of that."

Windsor Essex Economic Development Corporation's Susan Anzolin said NAIAS shows Windsor-Essex is open for business.

"And we're not just about automotive manufacturing. We're about innovation."

Both Anzolin and Dilkens agreed that it's time to build on Windsor's strengths.

"We have a strong automotive industry and we think there's opportunity," said Anzolin.

Car-building has been a part of Windsor for many years. But according to Dilkens, the city also needs to ask how it can be part of the technology.

"Certainly we want to build the cars, there's no doubt about that," said Dilkens. "We're really good at that."

Some of that technology in the automotive sector currently include things like autonomous driving, artificial intelligence and ongoing user enhancements like adding 'cloud' elements to vehicles while on the road.

Dilkens credits the university and college for home-grown talent, saying they pump out graduates who are capable of working in those fields.

He looked to major automotive and mobility technology companies setting up shop in Windsor-Essex in the next few years as a reason to be excited.

And for Anzolin, he said the city "can't continue to just rely or depend on the automotive industry in terms of traditional manufacturing."

"We've made vehicles for generations," said Anzolin. "Lets be part of that future — ensuring we are future-proofing our economy."