WaterlooEDC Inventing the Future

93

Waterloo Region is truly inventing the future and the new leadership team at the Waterloo Region Economic Development Corporation (WREDC) is focused on accelerating the business momentum already established in the Region. This experienced leadership team at WREDC brings a diverse range of industry and sector acumen including the Auto, Tech, Manufacturing and Consumer sectors. Team members have had successful careers in government, the private sector, not-for-profits, Foreign Service, and start-ups. CEO Tony LaMantia, after a 25 year career in the private and public sector, was recruited from his role as Assistant Deputy Minister of the Investment and Industry division of the Ontario government.

Waterloo Region Economic Development Corporation is the first point of contact for companies of all sectors wishing to locate, relocate or expand in the Waterloo Region. Only ten months into its inaugural year, the organization has been ramping up operations and establishing its corporate vision to be locally rooted, internationally competitive and globally renowned. WREDC has been very active in supporting local company expansions and new companies landing in the Region, as well as participating in a number of community events, including co-hosting the first annual AutoTech Symposium earlier this fall. From an international perspective, there has been a steady flow of traffic from international businesses, government delegations and key investment intermediaries. By the end of 2016, the team will have led foreign investment and growth focused missions to California, Chicago, Germany, Korea and Japan – all key areas for growth in Waterloo Regions core sectors of Information and Communication Technology, Advanced Manufacturing, Food Processing and Automotive.

The Waterloo Region Economic Development Strategy detailed several dozen objectives for the organization, and LaMantia, with the help of his Board of Directors, prioritized these into four key operational planks that WREDC is accountable for:

  • To forge a track record of clear Foreign Direct Investment and scale up wins. To that end, WREDC has already announced two new deals: ETAS Embedded Systems Canada headquarters (a Bosch subsidiary) and the NCC Group Kitchener facility.
  • To build a best-in-class, “goto” Concierge Service to facilitate investment attraction and retention. This requires close collaboration with the Economic Development departments across the cities and townships in the Region, to ensure that all prospective investors are offered best-in-class service at all times.
  • To create a current inventory of investment ready-shovel ready sites, including a “best in class” centre of excellence as the go-to source for regional data.
  • To develop a unified narrative and integrated marketing plan for the entire Region’s economic development.

In line with these key operational priorities, over the last several months the WREDC team has been working on creating a clear brand identity for the organization that will, along with a concise “Why Waterloo?” brand narrative, clearly and succinctly convey the key points of differentiation of the Waterloo Region in order to uniquely position themselves within the cluttered landscape for investment attraction. Consulting with all stakeholders during the branding process, the economic development team took a very collaborative approach to the branding work.

“The primary objective of this branding exercise is to increase awareness of our organization and our region in the minds of our target audience – which are investment decision makers and intermediaries outside of the Waterloo Region” stated LaMantia. Through the extensive research process, it became very evident that the name “Waterloo” is how the international business community identifies this Region. And with that clarity, a new brand was created: Waterloo EDC.

LaMantia states “The new brand name simplifies our message and signals an ease of doing business with our communities in the minds of our target audience.” Many similar multicity/ multi-municipality regions are marketing themselves as a single entity and they are using their strongest brand equity and asset as their brand name – such as Toronto Global, Invest Ottawa, Los Angeles (LAEDC) and New York (NYEDC).

The new brand comes with a new tag line: “Waterloo EDC – inventing the future” which emphasizes action, talent, innovation and disruption – all of which is evidenced by the world leading institutions that call this region home, such as the Institute for Quantum Computing, the Perimeter Institute, the industry-led innovation center “Communitech,” the Centre for International Governance Innovation and the Accelerator Centre. The Marketing and Communication team is delighted with the newly developed logo, which clearly celebrates Waterloo and Canada. Says LaMantia “the new brand identity says it all – together, all of us in Waterloo are truly inventing the future.”