Home Image

Trade shows proving to be fertile ground for prospecting York Region

Regional municipalities will need to compete against U.S. states and other industries for top-end talent in the manufacturing sector, and York Region’s Jonathan Wheatle believes Southern Ont. has an edge.

York Region delegation at the AutoTech: Detroit conference (Credit: York Region – The Regional Municipality of York)

On Jun. 7 and 8, AutoTech: Detroit 2023 brought together the business community in the region for focused B2B content and networking to try and drive business deals and improve the automotive economy.

Ont.’s York Region decided to attend the event to promote the area as a hub for electronics and automotive manufacturing, and Jonathan Wheatle, Director of Economic Strategy at York Region, went into details regarding the event.

“We wanted to connect with a business involved in innovation in the automotive technology space. We were able to broker some meetings for ourselves and some manufacturing partners that went with us. We organized some site tours and shared some ideas on how we could benefit and cross-promote our strengths,” says Jonathan Wheatle.

A number of municipal regions and business groups in Ont. are making more of an effort to attend trade shows this year in an effort to grow their economic competitiveness through strengthening their role in the EV supply chain and manufacturing capabilities. On Jun. 19, the Durham Region announced that it would be attending the upcoming Collision Conference from Jun. 26-29 in Toronto, Ont. alongside Project Arrow, Canada’s EV prototype, to showcase the capabilities of the Durham Region.

Municipalities in Ont. are engaged in an effort to attract manufacturing businesses to their regions in the wake of large announcements by companies like Volkswagen and Stellantis, two automotive manufacturers who have made commitments to Ont. in recent months.

When asked why Ont. is proving to be such a promising region, Jonathan when into detail regarding the York region’s strengths.

“The York Region has more than 250 automotive products and technology companies, and the 2nd largest ICT hub in Canada with more than 4600 tech companies in the region. Different manufacturers can tap into the expertise we have across a wide range of businesses, from electronics to automotive. We have an ecosystem that allows different companies in different stages of their business to take advantage of the depth that’s available here.”

When asked about what some of the roadblocks were in attracting businesses to the York Region, or what they foresaw as an area of focus, Jonathan Wheatle mentioned education and a lack of awareness around what the region was known for.

“We are an information and communications technology cluster, and businesses may not know the depth of our automotive technology ecosystem. The York Region can introduce you to hardware if you need hardware. If you’re an entrepreneur the York Region can connect you with an academic partner. If you’re looking to commercialize the York Region can connect you with the right facilities. We have connections to academic partners if you’re a larger business looking to access a talent pool. Whatever your need is, we can help you.”

The York Region, as well as Durham and many of Ont.’s municipalities will face a serious challenge when it comes to the talent shortage, and competing with other cities and regions for the top-end talent required to compete in the advanced manufacturing economy. To that end, Jonathan revealed what sounds to be a promising talent sourcing strategy.

He mentioned a partnership with a workforce development board, ‘Work In York’ that provides assistance to both job seekers and employers, and offers tools to businesses to help them secure talent, such as an interactive map that is geotagged to help businesses actually see where talent might be located.

Regional municipalities will need to compete against U.S. states and other industries for top-end talent in the manufacturing sector, and York Region’s Jonathan Wheatle believes Southern Ont. has an edge.

“The competition for talent is truly a national issue” he says. “We’re a designated partner for the Global Skills Strategy, so we can help local companies find direct partners at the federal government level that might be able to help secure talent. We’re also helping companies showcase themselves to talent at conferences like ‘Elevate’ in 2022. So we’re approaching the issue with both a talent-facing and a business-facing strategy.”

Regional municipalities like York and Durham continue to accompany businesses south of the border and abroad as they look to land a manufacturer that will help to strengthen the Ontario economy.

Reposted from https://www.canadianmanufacturing.com/features/trade-shows-proving-to-be-fertile-ground-for-prospecting-york-region/