Niagara Gazette

Opinion

June 2, 2014

GUEST VIEW: Canadian marketplace vital to local development efforts

Niagara Gazette — In 2012, the Niagara County Industrial Development Agency decided to invest resources to create a full-time position, director of marketing. This was largely driven by the fact that the southern Ontario marketplace continues to grow and companies and businesses in that area are an untapped resource for expansion into the United States and in particular Niagara County.

The Niagara region has many benefits that would generate interest from Canadian companies in southern Ontario to explore expanding operations here. Consider that the Niagara region is an $80 million trade corridor as well as the number one market in passenger and number two market in truck crossings of all northern border international bridges with approximately 3.8 million vehicles crossing the three international bridges annually.

Another factor that is influencing Canadian companies to explore opportunities in the United States is related to trade and homeland security issues. Simply put, if Canadian companies want to expand and grow their market share in the United States, then they need to have a physical presence here.

In May our agency, with the support of a grant from National Grid, sponsored an event with the Toronto GTA chapter of the American Chamber of Commerce in Mississauga, Ont. The event was part of the 2014 Toronto Entrepreneurs Conference and featured U.S. business experts and government representatives who answered questions about how Canadian businesses can expand their operations in the United States. We will be participating in a similar event with the Greater Niagara (Ontario) Chamber of Commerce this fall.

This one event is just one of many activities we are implementing as part of a larger program to reach out to businesses in southern Ontario. During the most recent quarter, the agency produced and distributed a direct mail piece to approximately 1,700 businesses which led to several inquiries. This outreach and contact is just the first step of a lengthy process to get a business to consider expanding its operations, especially into another country. It is literally a life changing event for these business owners and it takes time and patience as they do their due diligence to make such a milestone decision.

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