Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Canadians at AZIGG Discuss Arizona-Canada Trade

We enjoyed the presentations and discussion with Rick Stephenson, Chantal Ramsay and Glenn Williamson at the Arizona International Growth Group on Monday.

Rick Stephenson (Consul and Senior Trade Commisioner of Consulate of Canada) kicked things off and discussed progress and opportunities with trade, investment, R&D partnerships and foreign direct investment (FDI). He mentioned that there are approximately 126 Canadian companies in Arizona that employ over 16,000 Arizonans. The largest is Circle K, headquartered in Montreal, but also includes Stantech Engineering and Bombardier Aerospace.

Rick pointed out that the these 'foreign' companies end up employing mostly local people and pull in other investment dollars from around the US. For instance the rail system being built at the airport is being managed by a Canadian company but the rail cars are being designed and built in Pennsylvania.

Chantal Ramsay (Consul at the Ontario International Marketing Centre in the Canadian Consulate General - Los Angeles) talked primarily about the leading edge clean energy initiatives going on in Ontario. They are phasing out coal energy in 2014, and Ontario is taking 4 coal plants off line in 2010, earlier than anticipated. Ontario's energy mix includes nuclear and hydroelectric power and it is growing the renewable energy portfolio, including wind and solar in order to make up for the loss of coal. Ontario has the most aggressive feed-in tariff in North America, and so companies that are green are very welcome. Also Ontrario encourages and attracts conservation and energy efficiency companies.

Glenn Williamson (CEO of Nest Ventures and Founder/CEO of The Canada Arizona Business Council) wrapped things up with an excellent summary of successes and opportunities. The number one need: international lift in Phoenix. We need more direct international flights, and Glenn pointed out that the City - including Mike Shelton who was present - are working hard with the airlines to get this done. Phoenix is the #5 city in the US and does not have a direct flight to Montreal the #1 city in Canada. And so much work needs to be done to increase from the current 80 direct flights between Canada and Arizona today.

Glenn also pointed out that Canada is over-capitalized and Arizona is under-capitalized, and that disparity drives a lot of the success between the two regions. The Toronto Stock Exchange is active in Arizona through a relationship with ACG.

Thank you to Rick, Chantal and Glenn. Canada is so much more than curling and hockey! The trade success between Canada and Arizona is a tremendous model for other regions to study and learn from. And we can make so much more progress, too - let's keep it going.

Our next AZIGG event is April 5th: "The World's Data Is Coming to Phoenix". We'll be talking about how Phoenix continues to successfully attract companies and data centers into the region and what the future holds. Panelists and participants will include Rick Crutchley, COO of CoreLink Data Centers, Brad Smidt, VP of GPEC and Ray Zuckerman CEO of ServerLIFT. We are also finalizing who from i/o datacenters will attend. Our April 5th event is put on in cooperation with the Arizona Technology Council and SIM - the Society of Information Management.

All the best, Doug Bruhnke