Sunday 15 November 2015

Canada Land of Opportunity!

Canada is the world’s second-largest country by total area,Canada has ranked as one of the top ten places to live in the world since 1994,Toronto and Montreal — have been recognized as world class cities in which to live and work, for their cleanliness and safety and for their cultural activities and attractive lifestyles

Canada: Land of opportunity

When you ask Darrell Gacom what he liked about his trip to Toronto last week, he'll sound like any other tourist. He'll tell you about clean streets, friendly people and going to the CN Tower for dinner.
But here's what really impressed the Tampa, Fla., businessman: the city's educated workforce, the dozens of languages it speaks, the safe communities and the low corporate tax rates.
Gacom's stop in Toronto was part of a trade mission. His company, Ott Lite, currently sells about $1 million worth of specialty light bulbs and fixtures in Canada. He figures that's just the beginning. During his visit, he met with local firms that want to sell his products here. "There's no real barriers to entry and no real barriers for growth, as far as I can see," he said.
When it comes to trade, Canada has long been the quiet, sweet girl next door to the world's economic powerhouse. No longer – these days, Canada is more like the prettiest country in the room.
Long-time trading partners that were content to just gaze lovingly across the border are sending trade delegations, often with local politicians and business leaders in tow, eager to affirm existing business ties and make new connections. 
"Over the course of the year, we might have half-a-dozen events. In 30 days, we've had three," said Carol Wilding, president and chief executive of the Toronto Board of Trade. "Clearly there's a trend of increasing interest for U.S. delegations to come to Toronto."
In mid-May, a business group from Pennsylvania arrived to give a talk on why Canadian companies might look at expanding in the U.S. Two weeks ago, a group from Buffalo, N.Y., did the same. Last week brought trade delegations from West Virginia and Tampa. In early July, a delegation from Arizona will visit, led by the mayor of Phoenix, who is slated to give a keynote address at the Economic Club of Canada on July 7. 
To be sure, the global recession has hit Canada, but the effects have not been nearly as devastating as they have been in the U.S. As the world knows by now, the International Monetary Fund has praised Canada's banking system, which held up relatively well as the credit crisis ripped through the U.S. and Europe. It's a message that Ottawa and Ontario are pleased to spread. An advertisement in a recent issue of Business Week reads, "The world's soundest banking system is headquartered in Ontario. Shouldn't you be here, too?"
Today, Canada is the biggest trading partner for 38 of the 50 American states. Trade between the two countries reached $597 billion (U.S.) – an average of $1.6 billion a day – in 2008. That doesn't even include tourism. 
Canadian exports to the United States reached $336 billion (U.S.) in 2008, while imports hit $261 billion. Much of those figures captures intracompany trade, particularly in the automotive sector. Oil and gas also accounts for much of the total. 
But the core of it comes from thousands of small and medium-sized companies that buy and sell across the border. 
The surge in trade missions comes at a time when "Buy American" legislation is having a crippling effect on some Canadian companies that sell directly to local and regional governments. 
But U.S. trade delegates play down any Buy American threat, as they anxiously woo Canadian businesses to expand their operations into the U.S. That's where the local politicians and federal officials do their best to set the mood. 
"The U.S. is really looking forward to working with you to promote investment and cross-border trade," U.S. Consul General John Nay recently told the breakfast crowd at the Toronto Board of Trade, adding that Canada and the U.S. enjoy the "deepest, longest trade relationship of any two countries in the world." 
For all the flattery, delegates say that real business does get done during these missions. Meeting face-to-face can open doors and create opportunities that would otherwise take months or remain out of reach.
Willie Lively, vice-president of sales for Kanawha Manufacturing, accompanied the West Virginia mission that visited Toronto and Montreal. The first stop helped him solidify existing business relationships the Charleston, W.V., machine shop already has with Siemens Canada and Babcock & Wilcox Canada Ltd., in Cambridge. In Montreal, he learned that Canadian requirements for domestic content would make it difficult for his American company to win business directly with Hydro Quebec.
But he did make important contacts for a project that Hydro Quebec has in West Virginia. "The decision makers are here," Lively said. "I would have missed out completely on the opportunity had I not come on this trade mission."
Trey Wylie, chief operating officer at K.B. Industries Inc., nearly lost his voice after two days full of meetings in Toronto. His Florida-based company specializes in a construction material made from recycled tires. He met with officials from four local companies and considers at least two as candidates for a joint venture that would have Canadian companies bringing his products here and maybe even expanding into the U.S. themselves. "There was serious business being conducted. That hasn't always been my experience for these types of things," Wylie said. "I would say my two days there saved us six months, minimum."
The IMF's praise for Canada has certainly raised our profile, said Gerald Pisarzowski, vice-president of business development for the Greater Toronto Marketing Alliance. Lowering corporate tax rates and offering tax credits, along with plenty of qualified labour, also plays a big part. 
"The IMF statements about our financial security and the stability of our banks gave people a reason to have a look at us. And when they started looking, all these other factors made for a compelling argument for some companies," Pisarzowski said. "We have companies that say that they've looked globally and the GTA is really the only place where there's such a pool of creative people that they need for their industry."
Scott Bozek, principal commercial officer for U.S. Commercial Services in Toronto, helps U.S. delegations meet the right Canadian companies. "We do matchmaking, basically," is how Bozek puts it. 
His office also takes care of the logistics, booking hotels and transportation, and arranging receptions to help the networking along. He says his office is "maxed out," and won't be able to make any more arrangements for U.S. companies until mid-July. 
"Economic development is part art, part science. In a global economy, you do business with people you trust. It's putting a name with a face and actually having dialogue and working on things together," said Thomas Kucharski, president and chief executive of Buffalo Niagara Enterprise. The non-profit group provides information free to Canadian companies looking to expand in the U.S. 
It can be a slow process. By his estimate, the group had more than 200 expressions of interest in 2008. About half turned out to be serious inquiries. Of those, about a dozen turned into active projects where Canadian firms set up a facility or linked up with a U.S. partner. 
Simply Audiobooks was one Canadian company that took the plunge. Chief executive and co-founder Sean Neville recently told his story at the Toronto Board of Trade. In the fall of 2003, the fledging company was signing up about one new customer per day in Canada. On a lark, Neville and his co-founder posted their Internet ads in the U.S. They got seven sign-ups per day. They stopped the ads and sent back emails saying, "Sorry, but we're working on it," Neville recalled. "We immediately said, `We have to open an office in the U.S. We have to open one quick.'
"We made it happen and our business took off from there," he said. 
"There is a border, yes, but once you get past the border, it's just a massive opportunity."

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