'Landing' a Deal
Stephen MacKenzie & Joe Goncalves
CEO & Director of Investment Attraction, Invest WindsorEssex
Stephen MacKenzie, 59, and Joe Goncalves, 53, moved with lightning speed upon receiving word that Stellantis and LG Energy Solution (LGES) were looking at Windsor, Ont., to build their massive battery cell plant.
Critical to clinching the $5-billion investment, announced March 23, was shovel-ready land. MacKenzie, CEO at Invest WindsorEssex, and Goncalves, the agency’s director of investment attraction, had already identified parcels of land in the city’s eastern edge as a potential site for such a plant. The duo helped steer purchase negotiations of the land between the City of Windsor and the various owners. The economic development agency urged the city to approve an arrangement in which the municipality would own the land, and subsequently lease it to the Stellantis-LGES joint venture.
In all, the city’s purchase of the 220 acres (90 hectares) was expected to total about $50 million.
While hundreds of millions of dollars in federal and provincial incentives were instrumental in winning the biggest investment in Canada’s auto industry, land assembly was critical. “If it wasn’t for that piece of property, this plant wouldn’t be going into Canada today,” said Goncalves.