Migrant workers add $15M to regional economy

Town and agricultural officials say for every Mexican that comes to Leamington, five or six more jobs are created in the community and an estimated $15 million is injected into the economy.

Close to 3,000 workers expected in Windsor-Essex region this year, up 5% from last year.

Restaurants and bars that cater to home cooking and ethnic foods are popping up all over Leamington, where 3,000 migrant workers are expected this year. (File Photo)

Migrant workers are arriving in Leamington for the greenhouse growing season.

Close to 3,000 workers are expected in the Windsor-Essex region this year, up five per cent from last year.

Their arrival means a big boost to the local economy, particularly in Leamington.

"For every Mexican that comes here, he's spawning at least five or six more jobs in our community because of the local businesses that are involved in our industry," said Anthony Cervini of the Foreign Agricultural Resource Management.

That translates into an estimated $15 million for the local economy, according to the Leamington's economic development officer Anne Miskovsky.

"We know that, on average, about a third of their wages are spent within the community, either buying products, using services or sending products or money home to their families," she said. "Without that migrant worker population in Leamington, it would be a different demographic and we appreciate what they do for our community and our economy."

Workers come from the Caribbean, South America and Asia. Specialty markets in Leamington are thriving.

Restaurants and bars that cater to home cooking and ethnic foods are popping up all over town. Businesses are selling sports apparel they can't get back home and phone cards to help them stay in touch.

"Whatever they need from their country, they know we can get it. And also it's so easy because we speak the language," said William Cerdas, who owns a Latin American market.

Even chain grocery stores and video shops cater to seasonal workers. Locals don't mind sharing the shelves.

"Try to go grocery shopping on a weekend, it's very crowded, so it's very good for our economy," said resident Judy Buhler.