By Robert Tuomi
(WINDSOR, ON) – No doubt the DWOM 4 consisting of the Mayor of Detroit and its neighbouring counties are smiling today, quietly. Not like the mayor of Windsor, Edgar Francis, who brags he has brought a potential 20 jobs, possibly over three years to Windsor with a local office of a consultancy firm from Coventry, England.
How that will solve the region’s loss of 26,000 jobs, mostly in manufacturing, is not all that clear. What is clear is that some 15 months ago the mayors of Windsor and the local towns in the region dubbed themselves the WE8.
For some unknown reason, maybe they will tell you, maybe they won’t, they left out Pelee Island’s mayor. At the time they said they had banded together to work together. So far, possibly they have been too busy because there appears to be little working together.
Even Francis is showing himself to be a bit of a lone wolf. Instead of cooperating with his mayoral colleagues he seems to prefer working alone and even keeps his distance from the region’s economic development corporation. When Windsor Star columnist Anne Jarvis asked him about this the response could be deemed as arrogance. She wrote April 16, 2012 that “he shrugged, seemed nonchalant, almost as if the development corporation is irrelevant.”
Possibly it is, it hasn’t done anything, just burn through millions of hard earned taxpayer money and probably, this is speculation, doesn’t even know what is going down in Michigan where after “several years of losses, industrial employment in Michigan increased by 1.6% over the past twelve months according to the 2012 Michigan Manufacturers Directory®, an industrial directory published annually by Manufacturers’ News, Inc.”
Sure that is a small percentage, but what it means is that the state gained 10,252 industrial jobs between February 2011 and February 2012. If only the WE8 could do that given the amount of jobs the region has lost on its watch.
Michigan itself now has 14,286 manufacturers employing 638,336 workers and is participating, not like Windsor, in a recovery that is “gaining momentum in Michigan and across the U.S,” says Tom Dubin, President of the Evanston, IL-based publishing company.
Possibly the WE8 might be able to learn a little from Michigan and its success which is actually gaining employment “across a variety of industrial sectors reflects the state’s continued effort to promote an educated workforce and friendly business environment.”
Bright spots for the state include the openings of auto-supplier Hirotec America’s two plants in Chesterfield Township and Port Huron; the expansion of GM’s casting plant in Saginaw; the opening of Plasan Carbon Composites in Walker; the planned expansion of Panasonic Automotive Systems in Farmington Hills; and Teijin Advanced Composites’ expansion in Auburn Hills. Hearthside Food Solutions expanded its breakfast bar plant in Kentwood; Benteler Aluminium plans an expansion of its extrusion facility in Holland; and Meijer will expand the Holland-based dairy plant it acquired from Bareman’s.”
Of course, Windsor’s arch enemy, London, Ontario is telling a similar story with a new automotive plant and winning the honour to be the site for Dr. Oetker’s new frozen pizza plant.
The fact that the WE8 has done nothing for more than a year has caused city hall watchers to wonder if the formation of the group was nothing more than a publicity stunt to sort of, possibly, give the illusion that things are happening in the area.
Of course, greater things are needed that an inactive group of mayors.
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