The federal government is spending $7.5 million to turn Windsor, Ont., into what it calls a “world-class automobility accelerator,” dedicated to the development of zero-emissions and autonomous vehicles.
The non-repayable funds come from FedDev Ontario and will be managed by Invest WindsorEssex, a not-for-profit organization responsible for advancing economic development in the region and supported by the City of Windsor and County of Essex.
The federal funds will be used to help entrepreneurs accelerate the commercialization of their EV, connected, autonomous vehicles and cyber security technologies.
The goal is to position the region “as a hub for automobility innovation and investment,” the federal government said in a news release.
Irek Kusmierczyk, Liberał MP for Windsor–Essex, made the announcement Wednesday morning on behalf of Mélanie Joly, minister of economic development and minister responsible for FedDev Ontario
The government says the funding will support 1,350 people working in the automotive sector and is designed for projects and technologies that “help Canada achieve its plan for a green [pandemic] recovery that fights climate change” and “make industry cleaner.”
The announcement did not note any specific company that will immediately tap into the money.
“Capitalizing on our location advantages, highly skilled workforce and growing automobility sector, this funding will continue to encourage diversification and continued prosperity in Windsor-Essex,” said Invest WindsorEssex CEO Stephen MacKenzie.
MacKenzie said automotive is “in our DNA” in Windsor.
“In 1904 Henry Ford came across [the Detroit River] and we’ve been a leader ever since. But we have to adapt,” he said.
MacKenzie said the region “isn’t starting from scratch.” The federal money will be supported by an additional $12.3 million in private-sector and municipal funding. In 2019, the federal government gave the region $5 million for similar ventures.
“We’ve been working with our partners — the University of Windsor, St. Clair College, WeTech Alliance — to promote this [this region].”