London Does It Differently
By Robert Tuomi
(WINDSOR, ON) – More good economic development news has reached Windsor. The only problem is it is not about Windsor, it is about London where the head of the economic developers there, a Peter White, seems to be on quite the winning streak. He is nothing if not this part of Canada’s answer to L. Brooks Patterson, the county executive of Oakland County. Last year Patterson’s efforts brought 23,000 jobs to his county.
White seems to be right behind the American jobs magnet and last year alone landed a new auto parts plant and a frozen pizza factory.
This year, in the first few months alone, White and his crew, which most observers will tell you is made up of educated and experienced economic developers with few or no abecedarians, is already making significant announcements and is doing things that Windsor’s mayor, an Edgar Francis, only dreams about.
London is setting itself up as quite the transportation hub. Windsorites remember the day their city cried. Actually the city’s denizens weren’t crying at all, just laughing so hard. It was the day Francis announced he was building a cargo hub at the Windsor airport and Landstar would back him up on it. Landstar didn’t. In fact the public company had to issue a press release to say it wasn’t even involved. Francis had spent months of negotiations with someone he thought might be Landstar, but who wasn’t.
Apparently Peter White in London is a real negotiator, probably even better than William Shatner who plays the role of a negotiator in television commercials for some travel outfit. White seems capable, something that Windsor would love to say about its economic developers but all they seem to be able to produce is reports to justify their being kept on board. A nice job if you can get it.
White on the other hand has succeeded in bringing two new shipping businesses to his hometown and by doing so will add some 65 jobs to the local employment rolls this according to a report published on canoe.ca and which was last updated on May 21, 2012 at 7:13 pm.
Windsor on the other hand has lost 1,910 jobs since February alone and more losses are expected given its inward and selfish council has elected to avoid doing anything about the jobs crisis.
While Windsor talks about itself having some kind of cargo hub, London goes out, does the heavy lifting, something Windsor seems allergic too, and Bob’s your uncle, there on the forest city’s doorstep are two investment presents.
One from FedEx which is spending millions to build a new office to house 40 employees and the other from the Andlauer Management Group which has its sights on buying a parcel of land to start a new shipping business that will employ about 25.
What is shocking is what White was claimed to have said about these two investments, words that for many are hard to believe, not because he said it but because no one in Windsor seems to be saying the same thing.
Said White, “It continues to speak to London’s position (that) we are a really well-established location for a company to set up operations.”
White, who has much to be proud about, is a man of action who shows that when you pull up your sleeves you can make things happen. Over the past few years has not only added to the city’s stock of logistics and transportation companies with new operations of Ceva Logistics and McLachlan Brothers he has also repurposed a former auto parts plant.
McLachlan will take over the building of a former parts maker.
The dirty little secret in Windsor is that at this time most of its industrial infrastructure, aside from the former Lear plant, is still standing, although devoid of workers. This is good news because, unfortunately, it takes the pressure off of the neophytes at its economic development operation and the mayor. The owners of still standing buildings still have to pay property taxes, although, they can ask for a reduction, but pay they will and pay they must.
The real economic devastation won’t happen until the owners start bulldozing their buildings. This usually happens after economic studies examine the potential to sell or lease the buildings finds that the cost of upkeep and taxes of keeping the buildings locked up is higher than the cost of knocking them down.
It is expected that decisions like this will start to be made shortly. In a city that is unable to attract new business investment there is really, sadly, little need for these surplus buildings.
Too bad Windsor didn’t have a professional like Peter White on board who works at filling empty buildings to protect the flow of property taxes to the city by bringing the buildings back to productivity. Too bad indeed.
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