Episode 4.04 – Stephen Mackenzie – President and CEO of Invest Windsor-Essex

Stephen MacKenzie is the President and CEO of Invest WindsorEssex responsible for advancing economic development to grow and sustain prosperity in Southwest Ontario, Canada.

He has spent 27 years in economic development organizations in Connecticut, Nova Scotia and now Ontario. Prior to joining IWE, he served as the Executive Director of the Southeastern Connecticut Enterprise Region and previously held the position of Senior Vice President of the Connecticut
Economic Resource Center.

Before joining CERC, he was the Director Economic Development in Stamford Connecticut. In Halifax, Stephen was a Senior Executive Major Projects for the Nova Scotia Department of Economic Development’s Investment and Trade Division. Previously he spent four years with the TD Bank, and later served in sales and marketing functions at different organizations in both Canada and Belgium.

Stephen has been a part-time lecturer at European University and Mount Saint Vincent University in Halifax. He received a bachelor’s degree in Commerce from Dalhousie University in Nova Scotia, completed his MBA at European University in Belgium, and is a graduate of the University of Oklahoma Economic Development Institute. He is a member of the International Advisory Committee of the International Economic Development Council (IEDC), and a Board member for the Canada-United States Business Association (CUSBA).

Race to the Bottom?

You can listen to the full conversation Thursday at 7pm

Special “Battery Powered” Bonus Episode

We begin with you:

  • Who are you? What was your journey becoming President & CEO of Invest Windsor-Essex 
  • You are the head of a regional organization, so please paint a picture of Essex County for someone who hasn’t been here before?
  • Finally, how does your community fit into SW Ontario as a whole? 

The second part of the show we dig into more specific discussions. 

  • People only tend to hear about ECDev when good news happens (plant opening/funding) or bad news (plant closing/bad data). What is Economic Development?  What do you actually do day to day?
    • Is Economic development just a race to the bottom? 
  • Economic Development vs Community Development – Hear a lot about war for talent, amenities and quality of life for employees. To me there is almost a ven diagram overlapping economic and community development. 
    • How do you see those systems interacting and how could they interact better? I think there is a perception that economic development is more important than community development. Is that true?
    • Are community benefit programs something we need to better explore in Canada? 
    • As an example Regional transit, Waterloo region has one of the most robust regional transit systems connecting Waterloo-KW-Cambridge in under two hours. You can currently barely get across Windsor in 2 hours by transit. If we had a robust regional transit system, remove a competitive advantage of other communities, and get people to places quicker. 
  • You are a regional economic development organization. How do you balance the particular municipal needs vs bigger regional picture?
  • Can you talk to me a bit about Automobility, what is it? The word doesn’t exist in the Webster’s dictionary. What is it, and why is it the future of Windsor-Essex?
    • Admittedly I struggle to understand what it is and how it is different not just a more narrow version of what are already doing? 
  • If you could wave a policy magic wand, and could change a policy, municipally, provincially, federally or internationally what would you change?
  • Is there an event or reason for a listener to come to Essex County in the next few months? 

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