By Virginia Wilkinson, Director of Strategy and Business Intelligence
To promote investment and expansion in Detroit, it’s important to fully quantify and leverage the unique attributes of the region.
That requires looking across the border to connect the abundant resources that exist in Ontario, particularly the Windsor-Essex County region. An inherent benefit to Detroit is its location to the international border which opens both Canada-specific opportunities and serves as a global gateway. In business, location is everything – and Detroit can tap unrealized benefits through our position as the largest city on the U.S.-Canadian border.
This connection was the theme of a March 6, 2018, bi-national workshop attended by U.S. and Canadian stakeholders representing public and private sector community leaders as well as border operators and industry partners. The topic: connecting the two thriving regions, particularly the neighboring international downtowns, which are separated by only 5,000 sq. feet of river, using smart technologies and roadways.
Almost $500M in commercial goods and over 6,000 skilled workers cross the Windsor-Detroit border every day. As we grow our U.S.-Canada effort to attract new investment into the region, we must ensure that both people and goods move efficiently and securely. Therefore, it’s critical that we explore the state of new vehicle technologies and the possible related infrastructure needs for the Windsor-Essex Region and Detroit/Southeastern Michigan Region.
Staying ahead of the innovation curve and closely coordinated with our international neighbors is critically important for our cities in every measure. Finding solutions on connected and autonomous vehicles and seamless border travel, is paramount to our economic development activities.
Our region is known for partnerships: between government and private industry, between auto makers and technology firms, and between the two great countries we represent. This recent bi-national workshop is an extension of the work already being done in advanced manufacturing, medical-health, technology and mobility. In fact, our collaboration is elevating our regional leadership in the global mobility space by addressing the specific problems of crossing an international border and all the technological challenges that accompany merging two different systems of operation.
Businesses around the world are being exposed to the rich talent and resources found in the Detroit-Windsor metro-area. Our collaboration is yet another unique attribute that will contribute to intelligent mobility and logistics solutions, which are among the underpinnings of our economic success and regional continuity.
The event was a huge success, with attendance exceeding expectations and an outpouring of positive feedback. The DEGC thanks the Windsor-Essex Economic Development Corporation and Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada for hosting the event and forwarding the momentum on new vehicle technologies and related infrastructure.
We will continue to work with our bi-national partners on this, and other topics, to further position our region’s economic viability. That includes our Conference on “Emerging Technologies” being held in November 2018.
Engaging in unifying conversations that uncover diverse perspectives about how Detroit and Windsor impact each other is critical, as is collaborating on ways in which we can help each other achieve sustainable economic vitality.
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