City of Kitchener Mayor Carol Zehr led a Team Waterloo Region delegation to Germany from June 12-21 that included: John G. Jung, CEO, CTT; Rod Regier, Director of Economic Development, City of Kitchener; and Bill Elliot, Integrative Trade Consultant, CTT. The delegation visited with the headquarters of firms with operations in Waterloo Region.
This highly targeted initiative is part of the Federal Government’s ICCI-supported “Aftercare Program” which works to connect with about 50 foreign-owned firms across the region. This unique program is a new model in business retention and development with a twist in discovering new opportunities and following up through renewed relationship building with the headquarters of local firms.
Through this initiative, CTT was able to identify and connect with 30 German- owned companies in the Waterloo Region – of which about 12 foreign multinationals (FMNs) became part of this initial Aftercare Program. In Germany, the delegation met with 7 of these companies as well as other prospects, totalling 40 meetings.
The meetings exposed the delegation to the following Top 10 perspectives:
- The Solar industry in Germany/Europe is maturing and is looking for opportunities abroad.
- There are still opportunities to attract European solar (and wind) companies to Ontario, but Ontario’s Green Energy Act, while still offering incentives, is less interesting for many international investors than when originally offered in 2009.
- The delegation heard from companies at InterSolar about the lack of confidence in Ontario’s FIT program. Ontario will have to substantially increase its promotional efforts to attract future interest.
- Some solar firms indicated that they will have another look at the FIT rates, while others indicated that they were unaware of them and perhaps may consider looking at opportunities in our region as a result.
- The headquarters’ of the FMN companies located in the Waterloo Region were appreciative of Mayor Zehr’s approach of thanking them for their business operations in Waterloo Region. We learned about opportunities about their companies and raised further awareness of opportunities in our region.
- Several new ideas will be followed up by the delegation ranging from training opportunities to exploring new opportunities in partnership development.
- During the trip, the delegation also met with the Mayor and some Councillors and businesses in Gemering and visited with the economic development office in Bochum.
- Similarities with the Bockum region (700,000 pop) were interesting and there could be opportunities for further learning about planning and economic development matters between the two communities.
- Germany as a market to attract investment and business to the Waterloo Region can be enhanced through expanding existing initiatives such as the German Committee and some new strategies, such as developing educational initiatives to assist German firms to locate in our area.
- RIMOWA’s spectacular transatlantic flight by its CEO in an historic JU52 aircraft and the Mayor and delegation’s send off in Cologne is an opportunity for the Waterloo Region to raise its profile among FMN’s as well as potential prospects from Germany.
Overall, the program gave delegates insight into expansion opportunities and potential global mandates from parent companies – adding to our ability to create a local business environment ideal for investment.