Already, there seems some friction between C Stephen MacKenzie, the presumptive new leader of the Windsor Essex Development outfit, and Windsor’s interim mayor Drew Dilkens. On the local CTV station’s August 8 report on the appointment, MacKenzie talked of the three key components of economic development. He spelt them out as business attraction, retention and expansion, and fostering entrepreneurs.
He admitted his, “… biggest and most pleasant surprise was the real attention given to these three disciplines.”
Some pundits were puzzled, given the battle cry of local politicians has too often leaned toward diversification of the economy. Dilkens, himself, told the broadcaster that a priority for him was to, “… make sure that we also continue to diversify the economy.”
Although, as is usual, Dilkens did not explain how the economy has been diversified.
His bringing up the topic could suggest a rough road ahead for MacKenzie, if he sticks to his focus of the three disciplines.
At least he will bring training and experience to the office.
For almost a year, it has been operated by an interim manager who admits to having no expertise or training in the field. Rakesh Naidu, apparently, used his lack of expertise to lose a General Electric (GE) engine plant. The company told media that Windsor was quickly eliminated.
Possibly ironically, on the same newscast announcing MacKenzie, CTV reported on Intellitix expanding its Chatham operation. The advanced technology company initially located its warehouse there. It is now moving all of its operations, attracted by what it describes as, “… the cost of office and warehouse space [being] among the lowest in the country.”
Intellitix uses Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) to allow concert goers to make purchases with special RFID embedded wristbands.
Chatham, reported CTV, hopes to launch a technology and innovation hub by attracting more such companies, a definite diversification effort. It seems to be off to a good lead over MacKenzie, who may be burdened by the considerable time he needs to learn the local ropes and possibly rethink his approach.
One of his predecessors, Ron Gaudet, who was brought in with stellar credentials, found himself on the outs because of, as the Windsor Star reported November 27, 2012, “… friction with [then] Mayor Eddie Francis.”
MacKenzie says he plans to sit down with his inherited staff to discuss implementing new goals. He should make sure those goals are in line with those of Dilkens who, incidentally, recently hired his own economic development officer.
No doubt, in a wink wink, nod nod way, the new officer will be in competition with MacKenzie, although this has not been officially stated.
Any misstep by MacKenzie, and starting off with differing views on economic development compared to the mayor, could suggest his tenure may be as short as those who toiled before him. Unfortunately, he is not in the best of positions.
None of those who preceded him had to face the double threat of a new competitor at city hall and the aggressive Chatham Kent, which is already many steps ahead in creating an innovation hub.
It is something Windsor desperately needs after Francis failed to deliver the many high tech companies he announced were arriving to diversify the economy? Who can forget the glorious announcements of Wizie, Arcada, and Team My Mobile, to name a few. They, basically, never showed up.