The Business Ombudsman Initiative

By Marion Fantetti

Some exciting news!  Today, Sandra Pupatello, CEO of the WindsorEssex Economic Development Corp. announced a new initiative of direct outreach to businesses – the Business Ombudsman.

I’m Marion Fantetti and I’m excited to take on this role as the Business Ombudsman and for what it means for our business community – a direct point of contact to help them get through hurdles that may be impacting their business , and where they need answers quickly.  For example, when there are issues relative to government that our business people can’t resolve – we step in.  It’s also part of a differentiator in being able to promote our business-friendly environment to local businesses as well as to investors.

I have a great team of CAOs from the City of Windsor and the County of Essex – essentially the most senior official of every town in our region, along with representatives from our local Federal and Provincial MP and MPP offices. They are the conduits into their administration where some resolution may be required to assist our local businesses.

What does this mean?

Everyone recognizes the importance of assisting our existing businesses, any new ones, and of course, any perspective investors. This ‘team’ approach will demonstrate that we are business-friendly and outreaching to business to help them grow and be satisfied.

I’ll be reaching out to the business community with more information on this new initiative as we move forward.

For businesses, I think they will find that there is whole body of resources out there for them and my job is to make sure they get to those resources, and that they get answers quickly.  Why?  Because we want them to be in a position to grow and do well.  We want businesses in our region to do well and we are taking specific measures to help them and help them find answers.  Those answers may not always be “yes” or “no” but businesses need to know that we are going through all the proper channels and work through how public policy, government regulations and legislation affect Windsor-Essex County businesses; “stick handling” through the processes.

This role is really important to economic development – think of it as a canary in the coal mine – you get to see the issues before they are really big and unmanageable – you get to see the trends that are happening in the industries so that we get ahead of them before they get too bad.

If there are issues or policies impacting the growth of our businesses, we will know about it and we’ll let the key decision makers know about it, proactively, ahead of time.

Watch for my blog where I will be sharing key information on rising issues, trends and good news stories about business in our region. In this blog, I’ll have the opportunity to share information on common business issues and celebrating successes. I also look forward to sharing some great things happening in our business-friendly environment…so please stay tuned – I’ll be looking forward to hearing from you too!

To get in touch with me either give me a call at 519-255-9200 x2222 or send me an email at

This is all part of a plan to promote the Windsor-Essex region as the most business friendly environment, anywhere! 


Marion Fantetti, Business Ombudsman

Marion Fantetti is the Business Ombudsman for the WindsorEssex Economic Development Corporation

Business Development: A Cornerstone of Economic Growth

By Rakesh Naidu

The team at WEEDC, along with our partners are working collaboratively to strengthen the regional economy by executing a well defined strategy to deliver measurable results. Our efforts are focused on the five pillars necessary to strengthen the economy of our local community – Business Attraction, Business Retention & Expansion, Small Business, Marketing and Community Development.

I oversee the activities of the Business Development team, which includes retention and expansion as well as attraction. More specifically, we are charged with bringing new investment into the region, supporting existing companies, and assisting diversification efforts by leveraging the capabilities and historical strengths of the region.

Our team leverages the capabilities and unique advantages of our region to bring new businesses here. When we are successful, new jobs are created, our assessment base is increased and our economy becomes further diversified. Because of our inherent strength in the manufacturing sector, we are seeing investments in growing industries such as medical devices, nutraceuticals, aerospace, nuclear energy, water and related technologies, aerospace, and renewable energy. These diversification efforts must continue if we intend to evolve into a mature and robust economy.

Our regionally focused efforts have been successful in retaining and attracting several thousand jobs, but there is a lot more to do. Critics will be quick to point out some recent losses recently reported. However, the full picture must also include the positive steps forward. While we are saddened by those announcements we also have the knowledge of those organizations where our team’s intervention has helped them remain in our region. While these stories don’t make the news, on a whole the business community is experiencing positive momentum.

As an example our local companies in the manufacturing sector are very busy again. One of our jobs is to work with companies and help them find opportunities to diversify as we know that the auto industry is cyclical in nature. Hence, we continue to focus on diversifying and developing a more sustained business model that does not rely heavily on any one industry. Our BRE team supports existing companies by helping them explore opportunities to expand into new markets and diversify their product lines. We identify funding programs and watch for supply chain opportunities. In Q4 of 2011, StatsCanada reported that 21.3% of our region’s total employment was in manufacturing, including auto-related manufacturing, and this figure alone merits our continued, strong support for this important sector of our economy.

In today’s challenging business and political environment, expansion and creation of new jobs is becoming increasingly difficult. Despite the challenges, our team remains optimistic and committed to aggressively pursuing diversification and supply chain opportunities for local projects both large and small to ensure that we are creating jobs here. We are confident that the region will meet the challenge and continue to prosper. Together, we will succeed. To learn more, visit

Rakesh Naidu, Vice President of Business Development, WindsorEssex Economic Development CorporationRakesh Naidu is the Vice President of Business Development for the Windsor-Essex Economic Development Corporation.