Marco Mendicino, parliamentary secretary to the Minister of Infrastructure and Communities, in Windsor, Ont., on Friday, Sept. 6, 2019. (Bob Bellacicco / CTV Windsor)

The Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario announced $5 million to drive automobility innovation in Windsor-Essex.

Marco Mendicino, parliamentary secretary to the Minister of Infrastructure and Communities., the FedDev Ontario investment on Friday.

“WindsorEssex is an integral region for economic development, trade and partnerships, and collaboration on this exciting new initiative is key to the region seizing new opportunities afforded by the innovation economy,” said Mendicino.

He says this funding will help the region transition from reliance on traditional automotive manufacturing by leveraging new opportunities in next-generation mobility innovations, smart technologies, and automation.

To develop the cluster, the WindsorEssex Economic Development Corporation will partner with local organizations and businesses to advance automobility technologies, with a focus on connected, autonomous, shared and electric vehicles.

“Automotive companies are re-branding themselves as technology companies,” said Windsor Mayor Drew Dilkens. “As Canada's automotive capital, we also need to re-brand ourselves to showcase the innovation and technology happening here in the Windsor-Essex Region.”

In collaboration with University of Windsor, including the Cross-Border Institute, the project also aims to help Canadian firms better integrate with international supply chains.

Officials say this initiative will help to augment the region’s capacity to support businesses, including new entrepreneurs, in seizing new economic opportunities, while attracting talent, and new businesses to the region.

As a result of this project, WE EDC is expected to support 165 companies, establish 20 new partnerships, attract $9 million in foreign direct investment, and create and maintain 665 jobs in the region.