If you look outside, it’s raining money for electric-vehicle battery plants and their supply chains. There are light showers at the moment, but the forecast calls for a deluge.
As with rain, such money comes pouring down in pockets, so the tricky part is attracting it. There has to be a plan.
The $5 billion that will be invested to create an LG-Stellantis battery plant in Windsor, Ont. — the biggest single investment in Canadian automotive history, by the way — didn’t just fall from the sky. Windsor, specifically Invest WindsorEssex, had its ducks in a row and then did the rain dance of its life.
There are countless moving parts to such a deal, but key among them was that Windsor preemptively assembled a turnkey commercial land package located near key transportation. It’s no exaggeration to say that when Windsor was approached by LG Energy early last year about establishing an EV battery plant, Invest WindsorEssex merely dropped a folder on desk and said, “Here you go.”
Yes, without a Stellantis vehicle-assembly plant in Windsor, the deal might not have gone through. And without significant government money, the deal also might not have gone through. But what is certain is that if the city of Windsor did not pull together the right plot of land in the right spot and offer it to the LG-Stellantis joint venture for the right price — on a lease basis — the deal definitely would not have gone through.
How “Windsor got the deal done” is detailed in a story by Managing Editor Grace Macaluso, and in an age of disappearing industrial land, having the right package was the deal maker.
This is not the only example. Just ask Sarah Houde, CEO of Montreal-based Propulsion Quebec, which put together the deals for two big-money battery-materials plants in Bécancour, Que., located equidistant between Montreal and Quebec City.
Bécancour’s chief advantage is strong infrastructure links through rail, road and a deep-water port. The right land package in the right spot, and at the right price and at the right time. Sound familiar?
In Windsor’s case, there was some risk as there were no guarantees. Invest WindsorEssex knew the rough size of the land package needed to support a large-scale battery plant. The city owned some, but it had to purchase the bulk of it from multiple owners. But after all that, would there be suitors? What if it was all for naught and the 220 acres (90 hectares) of bowling-alley flat land sandwiched by rail, highway and international airport sat vacant forever?
No such problem. Before the LG-Stellantis deal, Invest WindsorEssex was in other discussions. Its preparations are considered the catalyst that got the deal signed.
Whether we realize it, Windsor just handed a playbook to every other Canadian city about how to attract battery-plant investment. With billions more dollars coming (story on Page 18), cities should be prepared because this is just the beginning.
It’s raining and the forecast calls for a deluge.