Windsor-Essex being eyed for billions in new industrial investment
Amherstburg's deputy CAO/Director of Developmental Services, Melissa Osborne, talks about the investment possibilities at the Allied Chemical property on Front Road in Amherstburg, on Monday, April 24, 2023. PHOTO BY DAX MELMER /Windsor Star
“The Volkswagen battery plant is wonderful news for St. Thomas and the greater London area, but it’s a benefit to all of us in Ontario and natural progression from us landing the LG plant,” said Joe Goncalves, Invest WindsorEssex’s vice-president of investment attraction and strategic initiatives.
Goncalves said the emergence of the Great Lakes basin as a battery manufacturing hub has led to Invest WindsorEssex’s strategy of selling the area as a logical site from which to service multiple battery plants.
Local officials have also already engaged with several suppliers for the factory that CATL, a Chinese battery manufacturer and technology company, will build for Ford Motor Company in Marshall, Mich. LG Energy Solutions also has two plants in Michigan and another in Ohio while its Windsor partner, Stellantis, is building a second battery plant with Samsung in Indiana.
“Well over $1 billion of those are already at the pretty high level of site selection stuff with municipalities,” Goncalves said.
“We have a company from Japan coming for a visit May 15. Focusing on attracting Japanese companies is our next real push.”
The site, which is owned by Honeywell, offers 200-plus acres of serviced land zoned for heavy industry. It also has access to the Essex Terminal Rail lines and water access to the Detroit River.
“Without a CIP in place, council didn’t have any recourse to address that.”
The plan offers a rebate of the difference in taxes between what the tax rate on the land is now versus its value after development. The rebate is for periods up to 10 years.
Industrial investment is eligible for a rebate up to 100 per cent while it’s 50 per cent for commercial development.
There must also be a minimum of 60 full-time jobs and an investment of $1 million or more for the industrial rebate. For commercial investments to qualify for the 50 per cent rebate, the investment must create 20 full-time jobs and be valued at $500,000 or more.
Companies that qualify then become eligible for a waiving of 100 per cent of the project’s development charges. There’s also a waiving of 100 per cent of the planning fees up to a maximum of $20,000 per project.
“The CIP is also available for companies that are already in existence,” Osborne said. “Companies like Diageo (bottler of Crown Royal whisky) fall within the CIP and would be eligible if they chose to expand.”
Osborne said landing one or two feeder plants of 200 jobs apiece is a game-changer for communities the size of Amherstburg.
“It’s not just Amherstburg, it’s opportunities for all the municipalities in Essex County,” Osborne said. “It would also draw other businesses and people to the community.”