Solar companies take a shine to Windsor

WINDSOR, ONTARIO - Solar energy companies are helping to diversify the Windsor region's economy, which is good news for an area hit hard by the recent downturn in the economy.

The Windsor region has historically relied heavily on the auto industry for jobs but as the economy faltered, plants closed and the unemployment rate jumped. The area has one of the highest unemployment rates in the country.

Now, solar energy companies are helping turn that scenario around. About a dozen such companies have set up operations in the area, said Naidu Rakesh, a director with local economic development corporation, and he's working with others to encourage them to do the same.

Naidu said the location, climate and a skilled workforce are key factors.

"We should not forget we are right next to another large market which is in the U.S. so being located here, not only can you serve the Ontario market but you can also serve U.S. market," he said.

"These companies go and locate in a place where they can find talent, they can find people who can manufacture, assemble and move products and our region has that."

One of the new solar companies is Unconquered Sun, which produces solar panels. CEO Sean Moore lost his job at Ford three years ago. He said his new company is doing well with 25 employees, which he will double later this summer.

While Mayor Eddie Francis is pleased the economy is diversifying, he said solar energy companies will likely not replace the region's automotive base.

"The auto industry continues to have a very strong presence and footprint," he said.


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