After years of discussion and planning, the Windsor airport is about to become a cargo hub, and will create 105 jobs.
Minister of the State for the Federal Economic Development Agency for southern Ontario Gary Goodyear announced a $20 million contribution to the project Wednesday afternoon at Windsor International Airport.
He was joined by Essex MP Jeff Watson, the new parliamentary secretary to the transport minister, Windsor Mayor Eddie Francis and Alan Wildeman, President of the University of Windsor.
The city's share is more than $2 million, to be used toward services.
"This investment helps to ensure that our economic diversification strategy continues and that, together with our partners ... our region is positioned to be a key and critical hub of logistics, international trade and border security," Francis said in a media release.
FedEx to be first tenant
Windsor International Airport also signed a lease agreement with FedEx, which will also operate the hub.
Peter McLellan of FedEx Canada called the investment a "bellwether" of the economy.
Windsor-Essex Economic Development Corporation CEO Sandra Pupatello said, "a logistics hub makes so much sense."
Tracy Pringle, director of business retention and expansion for the corporation, lauded the investment.
"FedEx Canada's investment at YQG underscores their belief in the Vision of Windsor-Essex as a logistics hub," she tweeted.
Research and development
In addition to the hub, the government agency is allotting $7.3 million to establish the Institute for Border Logistics and Security at the University of Windsor. It will develop new concepts in logistics and security through research and development.
University president Alan Wildeman said it's exciting news.
"It certainly is something that we're looking forward to and something we've been working with the city for a long time," he said.
The cargo hub and two other components are to be constructed in the north end of the airport property.
A few years ago, the city hired Lufthansa Consulting to determine the air cargo potential.
The German company found Windsor to be an excellent location for shipping companies, with "a lot of sleeping potential."
The new facilities are expected to open by the end of 2014.