The South And Canada 'Do Business' Face To Face
The business-to-business matchmaking continues today at the Raleigh Convention Center where the leaders from southern states and regions of Canada will try to make deals.
It’s the first time the Southeastern U-S Canadian Provinces Alliance or, "SEUS CP," has met in North Carolina.
The kick-off to the conference had fingers snapping and heads rocking as musicians jazzed up the meeting room, welcoming dignitaries to the conference.
SEUS CP held its first gathering seven years ago. Business-types and politicians would travel to Canada every other year to jump start business relations between home and the south.
Robert Ghiz is Premier of Prince Edward Island.
“So you know we want to continue to trade with our best friends with our partners," said Ghiz.
You could say the United States and Canada are best friends and top trading partners. And Canada is North Carolina’s number one trading partner with one quarter of all the state’s exports going to Canada, from chemicals to computers.
Premier Ghiz says there are several reasons why they make the trip down south.
“It’s really not that far. It’s a lot closer than trade with Europe or Asia, so from that perspective it’s good to get away," said Ghiz. But it’s also good because the weather is better down here and we don’t mind trying some local food."
And one by one, states and provinces showed off what they had to offer in flashy videos. North Carolina’s mountains, beaches and craft beer. They call it beauty amplified.
Mississippi highlighted its 15 ports and BB King. Its slogan, "Mississippi Makes It."
Sharon Decker is Secretary of the North Carolina Department of Commerce. She says her office wants to make sure they get local businesses in face-to-face, name-to-name meetings with future Canadian partners.
“There’s been, as I understand it, over 400 business-to-businesses meetings set up where they have the opportunity to talk about what we have," said Decker. Yes 400, they are short meetings. It’s kind of speed dating, if you want to call it that. But in a conference like this you just try to create the opportunity for those partnerships to connect.”
Tom Robinson is Vice President of ERD Limited in Kernersville. ERD fixes old electronics that other companies won’t repair or don’t know how to repair.
“And what that does for our customer, is that it saves them a lot of money because they don’t have to go out and buy new or they don’t have to go out and replace equipment that their people are currently very familiar with," said Robinson.
Robinson says they’ve already had contracts with Canadian companies and school districts, and hope to get more.
Bruce Fitch is the Minister for Economic Development in the province of New Brunswick. He says gatherings like this one give him a chance to re-new old business partnerships, make new ones and stay competitive.
“Well it’s like playing hockey with your friends, you’re going to play as hard as you can out in the corners, but after the game is over, you are still friends," said Fitch.
And North Carolina is hoping for another stellar year. In 2013, the state exported $6.7 billion worth of products and services to Canada.