Windsor-Essex Economic Overview

Few communities offer a more exciting combination of strategic advantages.  The Windsor/Detroit border crossing is a vital trade link which straddles the NAFTA Superhighway and transcontinental rail lines, within an eight-hour drive of half of North America's population.  Several airports serve the area, including a major international hub.  Our deep water port in the heart of the St. Lawrence Seaway welcomes and serves cargo ships from around the globe. Goods flow across the Detroit River at four points in the Windsor-Essex area: the Ambassador Bridge, the Detroit-Windsor Tunnel, the Michigan Central Rail Tunnel and the Detroit-Windsor Truck Ferry.

Competitive Advantages

The Windsor-Essex region has numerous distinct competitive advantages that can be leveraged to attract, retain, and grow both the industries and the talent needed to drive the regional economy forward including:

  • One of the highest concentrations of engineering professionals in Canada, and the largest machine, tool, die and mould (MTDM) cluster in North America.   According to the recent KPMG Competitive Alternatives report, Windsor-Essex scores very well on an operating cost basis compared to similar urban centres in a number of important sectors including automotive, aerospace, medical device manufacturing, IT and back-office operations.
  • Strong and vibrant post-secondary educational institutions in the University of Windsor and St. Clair College.  They have been very successful in attracting international talent to the region and function as catalysts for advanced research and development activities.
  • Having a quality of life that is among the best in Canada.  The climate is one of the most temperate in the country.  The overall cost of living, driven by affordable housing costs, is very competitive compared to other Ontario communities.   Crime rates, particularly violent crime, are well below most other urban centres in Canada and residents of Windsor-Essex have the benefit of a large urban area and all of its amenities at their doorstep.

Unique Bi-National Advantage

There are long standing business linkages, personal and institutional relationships and other business and cultural ties that are unique to the region such as:

  • More trade flows between Windsor and Detroit than any other crossing in the world, reaching tens of billions of dollars annually. Canada is Michigan’s most important trading partner, which means thousands of state jobs are tied to economic activity between the two sides.
  • Windsor Regional Hospital and Hôtel-Dieu Grace Hospital have developed a strong partnership with the Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit.  They have established an 8 minute table to table relationship to serve Windsor-Essex residents in need of emergency cardiac care.  They have also established a neo-natal program for infants less than 21 weeks that would have difficulty surviving a longer commute to receive care from trained specialists.
  • The University of Windsor (UW) and Wayne State University (WSU) have an exchange agreement that permits UW graduate and undergraduate students to take courses at Wayne State provided those courses are not offered at UW.  Additionally, The Intellectual Property Law Institute is a joint effort of the University of Detroit Mercy, Wayne State University, and the University of Windsor which features courses taught by either full-time law professors of one of the three participating law schools or practicing lawyers with extensive experience in some area of intellectual property.

Competitive Cost-Environment

In addition to a strategic geographic position, the Windsor-Essex region is a mid-sized urban centre in Canada that offers a competitive cost location for most industries.  The cost of real estate, taxation, labour and other overhead is lower here when compared to larger urban centres in Canada and the United States.

This advantage was recently confirmed by the KPMG 2010 Competitive Alternatives report which found that Windsor-Essex was a below average cost jurisdiction when compared to other Canadian, U.S. and European urban centres.  The region's cost advantage is tied to slightly lower wage costs, lower fringe benefit costs (non-wage labour costs such as health insurance), cheaper land and facilities costs among the 100+ jurisdictions compared.