By Robert Tuomi
(WINDSOR, ON) – To some, it was startling. A news report, about the owners of the Canderel building in downtown Windsor aggressively looking for new occupants, included a list of the mini-tower’s tenants. It caused some to check the list twice.
They began shaking their heads. They were befuddled, to put it mildly. Wipro Technologies was not on the list.
A few took to calling the company’s phone number. A recorded message told of how their calls can’t go through. They frantically checked Yelp! It had nothing. Other directories talked of Wipro “Echnologies.” Were the directory preparers starting to forget its name one letter at a time?
On LinkedIn, the manager Manta said was running the office had left in 2011. Then, when they checked the Wipro website, they were crestfallen. Wipro had moved on to Mississauga, Toronto, Brantford, and Calgary. No mention of Windsor.
Wipro was possibly one of the largest, high technology growth opportunities the city has likely ever seen. It set up an outpost in 2002 as one of the first tenants to take up space in Riverside Drive’s Canderel. Back then the city had a professionally run economic development office and Wipro’s arrival was proof.
Windsor became part of a network Wipro had been setting up to expand itself around the world. It formed information technology (IT) development centres in India, its home country, as well as the US, UK, Germany, and Japan.
Windsor was in very good company and, through the hard work of the economic developers, had found itself on the high technology world map.
Why Wipro is important, or should be to voters, is its departure could say a lot about the performance of ineffective councillor and mayoral candidate Drew Dilkens. He headed the now largely disbanded council standing committee on economic development. It was his responsibility to bring jobs to the city and Wipro could have been his gold mine.
Unfortunately, he did little, often presiding over meetings with no agenda, that were cancelled or lasted three minutes, or which ran without him. If indeed Wipro closed in 2011, it would have been during the time Dilkens was bone idle on job creation.
Is Dilkens the culprit? Did he let Wipro slip away?
Wipro is a significant company to lose. It employs a talent pool of over 140,000 and has customers for its information processing services in some 200 cities across six continents. Although, just because it has left Windsor, it doesn’t mean it is not doing well. It is, in fact, doing very well, success that Dilkens might have been able to build on.
In 2008, the Ann Arbor News reported that the, “$3.5 billion Indian IT, engineering and business-process outsourcing company is eyeing further expansion in Michigan, adding to a pair of offices in Troy and further growing the state’s economic ties to the Asian nation.”
It was said the company’s plan was to grow to over 100 jobs in Troy. That was followed a few years later with a much larger Wipro business process outsourcing unit emerging in Brantford, early in 2012. Wipro, in a press release, mentioned that it had its sights on employing 500 in Wayne Gretzky’s hometown.
Wipro arrived a year before Eddie Francis was first elected mayor. It was a bird in the hand that was surely worth a lot more than bird in the bush Wizie. Francis was known for continually circling the globe to put the city on the world map, but might not have done enough to check to see if it was already there.
He gushed in his 2009 fanciful boast of Wizie coming to town that capturing the company’s interest, “shows that we can be successful on a global scale.”
Wizie didn’t come.
Is it this kind of faux success that Dilkens plans to build on?
Has Wipro become the latest synonym for opportunities lost, just like Wizie as well as Team My Mobile, Arcada, and so many more? Does anyone understand what the loss of Wipro means?
The company competes with other well-known IT firms Accenture, TCS, and Infosys. The August 22 Economic Times said that TCS estimated the digital service space it competes in with Wipro could be, “worth a few billion dollars, over the next few years.”
That could have translated into hundreds of well-paying jobs. But Wipro is gone.
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