When similar excuses are rolled out every time jobs creating investors bypass Windsor, it is clear something serious is afoot. So far, the city has been overlooked for Jaguar, Land Rover, and Volvo assembly plants, new work for Windsor Ford Engine, two mysterious manufacturers the mayor bragged about which didn’t materialize, and now a GE gas engine plant.
Last year, on May 27, the Windsor Star, after it was revealed Windsor did not win the coveted Jaguar plant, quoted interim mayor Drew Dilkens, who was whining the company told him that the city had done, “… everything that you could do and everything that would be expected of a municipality to attract this type of investment.”
Unfortunately, Dilkens most often comes up short in the diplomatic skills department. It is quite understandable if he cannot recognize a situation in which he is being patronized.
Jaguar’s people were obviously making themselves quite clear. Windsor did as expected against low expectations.
To his credit, Dilkens played to form. Cities that do everything right do not lose; they win.
Cities that do as expected lose.
With Dilkens apparently unable, or unwilling, to reveal the real reason, the paper dug a little deeper. It found, after talking to some unnamed sources, that the deal, “… failed because Canada can’t compete with other lower-cost regions like Mexico.”
Windsor, with its high industrial property taxes and surcharges, and hospital levies, is one of the highest taxed locations in the province. Dilkens surely knows this, but his hands are tied.
He needs the money to fund FINA and its swimming events, allegedly, so he can be one of its big shots.
Because of this, Dilkens can be forgiven for not trying to bring taxes down to make the city competitive.
The losing trend continued on June 1. In a CBC report, the city lobbied General Electric (GE) for its new gas engine plant and, apparently, started before the company’s intention of seeking a Canadian location was, “… publicly announced.”
Neophyte Rakesh Naidu, now running the local economic development outfit, claimed to have been gobsmacked when GE picked Welland. He told the public broadcaster his team thought it had all its, “… bases covered. It was a very creative proposal, so we’re very disappointed.”
For the city, it was déjà vu all over again.
It was arguably another loss for Windsor, which most likely could have been prevented if the city would end its experiment of employing people with no experience to run its economic development pitches.
Naidu, himself, claimed his team did excellent work. Intriguingly, the leader with no economic development credentials put himself and his team of abecedarians to the test and, after self-assessment, came out smelling like roses.
In the past, Naidu has been almost proud to point out his lack of professional standing, yet fails to resist the temptation to publicly judge his own lack of success. How many others in the employ of the city who fail have the liberty of ranking themselves as stellar performers?
Results should matter.
Windsor has a lot to do to fix its losing ways but, unless its Council has the will to act, which up to now it has avoided, things won’t change.
The pretence will just get thicker.