General Motors Co announced on Friday that it will be adding 700 engineering positions to its operations in the province of Ontario as it increases spending on research and development.

The Ontario government and GM Canada president Stephen Carlisle have been actively promoting the province as a technology center for the development of self-driving and connected cars. Ontario is the first Canadian province to pass legislation that permits on-road testing of autonomous vehicles.

The announcement is seen as a welcome boost for Ontario’s beleaguered automotive industry, a segment that generates $16 billion of the province’s annual GDP. In recent years car manufacturing in Canada has lost ground to operations in Mexico and the United States.

While the union representing the auto workers in Canada cautioned that the driverless car industry remains relatively small, officials praised the investment as an encouraging sign for the future of the segment.

Unifor National President Jerry Dias responded to the announcement by saying “I’m incredibly optimistic, I mean this is a great news story for Canada. To me this shows General Motors’ long term commitment to Canada.”