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 http://www.choosewindsoressex.com.
Rakesh Naidu is the Vice President of Business Development for the Windsor-Essex Economic Development Corporation.