Head of Invest WindsorEssex hopeful more investments for the region are close

Rusty Thomson/CKLW AM 800

The chief executive officer of Invest WindsorEssex says he’s ‘hopeful more investment for the region will be coming in the near future now that a new deal has been finalized for the NextStar Energy electric vehicle battery plant.

Stephen MacKenzie, president and CEO of Invest WindsorEssex, says it’s tremendous news that removes any doubt that may have been present with any of the companies they’ve been working within their leads pipeline.

“The good news is that we never stopped promoting, we never stopped engaging with the clients. We also did not have any of our leads tell us, ‘you know what, we’re uncomfortable with the uncertainty, so we’re removing Windsor-Essex from our list of potential locations that we’ll consider,” he says.

On July 5, Stellantis and LG Energy Solution confirmed that a new agreement had been reached with the federal and Ontario governments around incentives for the future of the $5-billion battery cell and module production plant in Windsor.

In mid-May, Stellantis indicated it may change its plans due to incentives being provided in the U.S. under the Inflation Reduction Act and $13-billion in government incentives provided to Volkswagen for its plant in St. Thomas.

The new deal will see the upper levels of government provide $15-billion in performance incentives for the Windsor operation, which is expected to create 2,500 new jobs once production begins.

MacKenzie says companies around the globe were watching this situation.

“It removed that last barrier that might come up. The good news is that we didn’t lose any deals or any leads because of it. I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t very relieved and happy that we’ve arrived at the agreement,” he says.

MacKenzie says he’s very hopeful they will have some signings in the very near future.

“Have none at the time that were waiting or just waiting for this confirmation. I’m happy to say we have some projects, some files that have progressed quite a bit and we’re very close to final decisions. That will be terrific news for everybody,” he says.

MacKenzie notes that within a 200-kilometre radius of Windsor, there are now 11 battery plants confirmed to be built. He says they are making pitches to supply chain companies that may not even supply the battery plant here.

During the Invest WindsorEssex annual general meeting in early June, MacKenzie indicated they’re very close to another $1-billion worth of investments in the region.

He said the number of jobs with that would be another 1,000, mostly in manufacturing and connected to the supply chain for the NextStar Energy electric vehicle battery plant.