An economic development organization in the Canadian city of Windsor, Ontario has launched a campaign to lure Indiana’s tech companies across the border.
The campaign from Invest Windsor Essex, a not-for-profit organization supported by Windsor and surrounding Essex County, is targeting small- to medium-sized technology businesses in Indiana, Michigan, Ohio and Illinois. The campaign is called “Your Bridge to the Future,” an apparent reference to the Ambassador Bridge that spans the Detroit River to link Windsor with Detroit, Michigan.
The campaign runs through August and includes videos, social media messages, billboards, advertisements and search marketing tactics. It aims to persuade business owners and executives, particularly in the sectors of digital technology, automobility and information technology, to expand or relocate to Windsor.
Automobility has traditionally referred to the science or study of vehicles for transportation; today, it’s used in the tech sector to refer to technologies related to the future of the automotive industry, which could mean autonomous cars, battery-operated vehicle and many other technologies.
“It’s time to cross into Canada’s innovation hub,” says a promotional video which touts the region’s growing tech sector, talent pipeline, quality of life and proximity to the U.S., among other things.
“We have run foreign direct investment campaigns in the past,” Invest Windsor Essex Marketing and Communications Director Gina Meret-Dybenko told IBJ via email. “However, the timing is prime for this campaign as our region is experiencing rapid growth in the tech sector—particularly in automobility and next generation zero-emission vehicle innovation and production.”
In March, automaker Stellantis N.V. and battery-maker LG Energy Solution announced they were forming a joint venture to build a $4.1 billion electric-vehicle battery plant in Windsor. And in November, Canada’s first automobility hub opened on the Windsor campus of St. Clair College. The hub serves as an accelerator for startups and entrepreneurs in electric vehicles, automated vehicle technology and infrastructure and related industries.
Larry Gigerich, executive managing director of Indianapolis-bases site selection firm Ginovus LLC, said Ontario and Quebec have emerged as Canada’s tech hubs, and he’s had several U.S.-based clients who have chosen to open offices in Canada. “You are starting to see, with Ontario and Quebec, more traction with U.S. companies.”
Gigerich said Canada’s strengths include its educated and diverse workforce and strong technical universities—an appealing prospect especially for U.S. companies who might be struggling to fill positions.
“I think they have an opportunity to be successful in what they’re doing,” Gigerich said of the campaign.
He pointed to the success of other campaigns, including the Indiana Economic Development Corp.’s “Illinoyed” campaign which targeted Illinois businesses with the promise of lower taxes in the Hoosier state.
“Indiana has done a masterful job over the last seven or eight years at getting companies to move out of Illinois,” Gigerich said.
The IEDC told IBJ it is not running any campaigns in response to the Invest Windsor Essex campaign. The agency declined to offer other response to the Canadian campaign.