Naidu selected to lead Windsor-Essex Regional Chamber of Commerce

Naidu selected to lead Windsor-Essex Regional Chamber of Commerce
Rakesh Naidu named president of Windsor Chamber of Commerce
The new president for the Windsor Chamber of Commerce is Rakesh Naidu, who was the COO of the Windsor Essex Economic Development Corporation. He replaces outgoing president Matt Marchand.

"I'm excited," said Jonathon Azzopardi, president of Laval. He noted Naidu knows the manufacturing community well and understand their needs.

What the chamber does and the role it plays in the economic development of the region really endeared me to this job, Naidu said. With what Ive learned, the network Ive accumulated, the knowledge base and the partnerships thats been created, I thought I could transfer that for this job and really make it work for the region.

Azzopardi mentioned the federal election next year, saying many politicians see Windsor as a swing area.

Rakesh Naidu, COO of WindsorEssex Economic Development Commission receives a standing ovation after being announced the new president of Windsor-Essex Regional Chamber of Commerce at the Chambers Annual General Meeting held at Hellenic Cultural Centre November 21, 2018. Nick Brancaccio / Windsor Star

"I think right now with an election coming up in the next year, he's going to be very busy," he said.

Rakesh Naidu, COO of WindsorEssex Economic Development Commission, has been named the new president of Windsor-Essex Regional Chamber of Commerce at the Chambers Annual General Meeting held at Hellenic Cultural Centre Nov. 21, 2018. Nick Brancaccio / Windsor Star

Aside from experience working at WEEDC, Naidu has been the director of several boards, from the Council for Great Lakes Region to the Essex Region Conservation Foundation.

One of his immediate priorities will be to look at the steel and aluminum tariffs that continue to be in place.

According to Naidu, he wants to make sure this region has a voice on political issues and wants to work with upper levels of government.

With federal Finance Minister Bill Morneau having given an economic update Wednesday and the provincial labour laws in flux, Naidu said hell be watching what the senior levels of government are doing very carefully.

Labour advocate Ken Lewenza said Naidu is "a wonderful choice" but expects to have differences in view with him.

Having said that, its important to offer a fair wage to everyone. It  has to be a fair balance, especially it has to be dealt with in a way that small business has time to adapt to such a change.

While Naidu thinks it's important to offer a fair wage to everyone, he said it needs to be dealt with in a manner that allows small businesses to plan for wage increases.

"Every place I go today, in retail areas specifically, you see signs that say help wanted," he said.

For a long time we had an advantage on combined corporate taxes in Ontario, Naidu said. With the changes in corporate tax in the U.S. that advantage has been reduced.

Naidu will start his role Dec. 12. At this point, WEEDC is still reviewing whether to find a new COO to replace him.

It is a priority for CBC to create a website that is accessible to all Canadians including people with visual, hearing, motor and cognitive challenges.

Rakesh Naidu was introduced as the new President and CEO of the Windsor-Essex Regional Chamber of Commerce on November 21, 2018. ( Bob Bellacicco / CTV Windsor )

I see the Windsor chamber as an important partner in its role and I think well continue to have a good relationship as weve done in the past.

Rakesh Naidu was given a standing ovation as he was introduced in the new role at the Chambers 142nd annual general meeting on Wednesday.

Lewenza acknowledged the chambers position on the minimum wage and labour law changes differ with labour, but that wont derail the relationship.

Naidu has spent the last ten years with the Windsor-Essex Economic Development Corporation, most recently as the chief operating officer.

Leveraging what I have done with the WEEDC and making use of those assets and the information that I have so that the chamber membership can benefit from that, says Naidu.

Hes an excellent choice, Forsyth said. Hes got all the elements that will help create future success for the chamber.

The widespread experience Rakesh brings in business, executive leadership and advocacy will be of great benefit to our members adds Forsyth.

I look forward to advancing the strategic goals of the WERCC and to continue to create value for our chamber network, corporate members and stakeholders adds Naidu.

Hundreds of friends, family and community members said goodbye to a Windsor woman, who inspired many with her courageous five-year journey with cancer.