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Former industrial hub in Ontario pins hopes on wind

Municipalities in the heart of Ontario's ailing manufacturing sector are looking to recast their region as a hub for the production of wind and other renewable energy technologies. The Windsor-Essex Economic Development Commission and Chatham-Kent Economic Development Services joined forces with local renewable energy companies, the Canadian Auto Workers union and academic institutions in July to launch a "green collar jobs coalition" to attract sustainable energy manufacturing opportunities to south-west Ontario. "The region has historically been the manufacturing powerhouse of Ontario, manufacturing everything from cars to stoves," says David Timm of AIM Powergen, a wind power developer that is part of the coalition. "They've got the long history, they've got the skilled labour force and they are well into their realisation that there needs to be diversification away from the auto sector." Ontario has lost 180,000 factory jobs since reaching a peak in 2000 and could lose another 250,000 over the next five years, according to a report by Toronto-Dominion Bank. But the coalition believes skyrocketing demand for turbines and the need for new investment in production capacity could provide at least a partial solution. It is putting together a business plan and marketing materials it can use to convince wind turbine manufacturers and policy makers of that opportunity.

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