Feds, province expected to make $4B EV battery plant announcement in Windsor

The federal and provincial governments will be in Windsor Wednesday where they’re expected to announce details around a $4 billion joint-venture between Stellantis and LG Energy Solution for the first Lithium-Ion battery production plant in Canada.

Multiple sources with knowledge of the announcement tell CTV News construction on the facility in Windsor, Ont. will begin almost immediately, with a desire to get operations up and running by early 2024.

With that operation will come an estimated 2,000 to 3,000 jobs, according to sources.

Before its even official, the multi-billion dollar investment is already being dubbed a game-changer for the region.

“Tomorrow will be that stamp again for a long time for Windsor being the heartbeat of the Canadian auto sector,” says Flavio Volpe, the president of the Automotive Parts Manufacturers’ Association of Canada.

While Volpe would not comment on the announcement, he speculates if it comes to fruition, it will create thousands of direct jobs and potentially tens of thousands of indirect jobs in the establishment of a new EV battery supply chain.

“This is some very exciting news. This is a development that all of us have been dreaming for a very long time,” says Rakesh Naidu, the president of the Windsor-Essex Regional Chamber of Commerce, noting it’s hard to quantify just how many other new jobs will be added. But he predicts the ripple effect will be huge. “This is going to create thousands of more jobs in the supply chain, jobs that don’t exist today.”

Naidu calls these “highly technical” jobs, with positions likely to open up for engineers of all types, chemists and scientists, research and development and software designers, to name a few.

“These are the types of jobs that raise families and for a long time,” says Volpe, who predicts the new supply chain will connect the natural resource mines in Northern Ontario to the proposed Windsor factory.

“This is math and science, it’s not art,” Volpe says. “When you commit to a facility that is going to make ‘x’ amount of things, you need ‘x’ amount of hands on those things.”

The University of Windsor and St. Clair College have already started to position themselves for the changes that EVs will bring to automotive curriculum, but Naidu predicts workers and their families will come to Windsor from far and wide.

“We’ll be attracting talent from all over the world,” he says.

The community at large could also stand to benefit from the new job creation, which many auto analysts call the “multiplier effect.” As the theory goes, Naidu says small and medium-sized enterprises stand to see more money circulating throughout the economy and spin-off jobs created as a result.

It’s also good news for workers at Windsor Assembly Plant, which is set to bump down to a single shift operation later this year. New product commitment from Stellantis in the electric vehicle segment and a planned re-tooling of the facility could mean a swift reversal of fortunes for thousands of workers.

“The commitment to new product in there is going to be bolstered by this announcement tomorrow,” says Volpe.

He adds all orders of government have been working hand in glove to bring this investment to fruition, the first of its type in the Canadian automotive sector which will bring benefits to not only Windsor-Essex, but also the province and nation as a whole.

“In the long term, it’s the type of investment that announces to everybody, ‘here is a global investor with a global-sized bet on the region,’” Volpe says.

In attendance at Wednesday’s announcement will be federal minister of innovation, science and technology Francois-Philippe Champagne and Omar Alghabra, minister of transport. They will be joined by Ontario Premier Doug Ford and his minister of economic development, Vic Fedeli. Windsor Mayor Drew Dilkens and Stephen McKenzie of Invest Windsor Essex will also be in attendance.

It’s expected the both municipality, province and federal government will outline financial incentives being provided to lure Stellantis and LG to Windsor.

“We deserve it. I don’t think there’s any other place in Canada better suited to land this kind of investment,” says Naidu. “We are the auto capital of Canada and now we’ve proved it yet again, that we will take the Canadian auto industry to the next level, right here.”

When the dust settles on this announcement, Volpe has a prediction that this expected announcement is potentially the first of many for electric vehicle components manufacturing in Canada.

“This is the first domino to fall, and it’s a hell of a domino,” says Volpe. “And it’s going to make a lot of noise when it falls, but the shockwaves are going to knock down a few others.”

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