Taking ‘The Windsor Story’ to Mexico

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

The Windsor Star/Doug Schmidt

Mayor Eddie Francis introduces “The Windsor Story” to another high-powered audience when he addresses a group of North American business, public and philanthropic leaders gathered in Mexico Thursday.

“It allows us to push our city on the global stage,” Francis said of being invited to address the second annual forum of the Global Cities Initiative, a joint project of the Brookings Institution and JPMorgan Chase & Co. He’ll be sharing the stage in Quertaro, Mexico, with Gabriel Lopez, the president and CEO of Ford of Mexico, Scott Smith, the mayor of Mesa, Ariz., who is the current head of the U.S. Conference of Mayors, and Louise Goeser, CEO of Siemens Mesoamerica.

Windsor’s aviation maintenance, repair and overhaul hangar and its emerging cargo village and logistics and border institute will be highlighted by the mayor, who said he’ll be touting Windsors’ prime location at North America’s busiest border crossing, as well as his city’s affordability and its skilled workforce.

What Windsor is doing to “reposition the local economy” ties in well with the five-year objective of the GCI, which seeks to have the North American economies work closer together in key industries such as aerospace, automotive and electronics, said Francis. The mayor’s invitation came from GCI chairman and former Chicago mayor Richard Daley, whom Francis has known since becoming mayor himself a decade ago.

Francis said such gatherings “open up lines of communication that can lead to partnerships down the road.” He said he’s already fielded several corporate queries following a similar onstage appearance last month in San Diego at the third annual North American Competitiveness and Innovation Conference. There, he was part of a panel discussion on border competitiveness.

Francis credits an appearance several years ago at a similar event hosted by the chamber of commerce in Coventry, England,  for luring KM&T Lean Evolutions to Windsor. The U.K.-based multinational company, which serves clients in the health care, automotive, mining and aerospace sectors, recently announcing further expansion at its Windsor subsidiary.

Windsor is “very attractive” to potential investors, said Francis, “but you need to let these companies know about us … you have to be in their face.” He said his solo one-day Mexican appearance is being paid for out of his mayoral office budget.