Windsor-Essex Economy to Grow Faster than National Average

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The Conference Board of Canada projects a positive economic outlook.

Windsor is expected to have the fourth fastest-growing economy in 2016 – with manufacturing and sports tourism driving that growth – among 15 Canadian cities examined by the Conference Board of Canada.

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For the second year in a row, Windsor’s economy is projected to expand by 2.4 per cent, well above the national forecasted growth rate of 1.6 per cent, according to a recent report. “After creating 3,000 jobs in 2015, the Windsor economy is projected to generate an additional 1,400 jobs per year over 2016 and 2017,” the conference board report says.

The board attributes the city’s positive outlook in “large part” to FCA Canada’s investment in its Windsor Assembly Plant, which is building the new Chrysler Pacifica minivan. It also credits the city’s plans to host major sporting events such as the FINA World short-course swimming championships in December and the Memorial Cup next May.

But as the region’s largest employer, FCA Canada plays a major role in the local economy.

FCA Canada is part of the international automotive group FCA with over 90 years of history and thousands of employees in the Windsor-Essex area. FCA Canada, with its headquarters dominating Windsor’s downtown skyline and overlooking the City of Detroit, has invested more than $1 billion in research and development over the past 20 years, much of it in Windsor through partnerships with leading Ontario universities, including the University of Windsor.

At the Automotive Research and Development Centre (ARDC), “we are helping Canada create a new generation of automotive engineers,” according to Tony Mancina, Head of Engineering for FCA Canada.

And it’s that partnership between the best automotive minds in industry and academia that has contributed to the development of the next-generation Chrysler Pacifica and Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid, the industry’s first electrified minivan.

By keeping its manufacturing and R&D facilities in close proximity, FCA Canada is able to better support the synergies between research and new product development advances. It’s a relationship based on equal dependency with FCA providing the ARDC with vehicles to work on and ARDC offering innovative solutions to FCA’s product development team.

The Windsor-Essex Region has been home to the minivan since 1983 when the first one rolled off the line at Windsor Assembly Plant. It’s the only plant in the world that builds the company’s minivans.

After investing more than $1 billion to retool the Windsor Assembly Plant, FCA announced it hired 1,200 additional workers, bringing the full complement to nearly 6,000.

“That’s definitely one of the big stories,” said Al Arcand, the conference board’s associate director and a Windsor native. “What happens (in manufacturing) matters to the overall Windsor economy.”

Local manufacturing activity has been “picking up steam” since about 2010, according to the report. A strong U.S. dollar, low gas and oil prices and strong vehicle sales in the U.S. have helped.

“Windsor’s economy is enjoying a period of sustained and solid growth, the report states.