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JCIDA marketing council mulls ways to recruit Canadian businesses

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A 2013 marketing campaign aimed at enticing Canadian businesses to launch locations here was discussed Thursday by members of the marketing council for the Jefferson County Industrial Development Agency.

Planned action includes creating a website with resources for Canadian businesses interested in relocating here, hosting workshops for Canadian businesses and launching a cross-border advertising campaign to promote the agency in Canada.

“We’re really seeing what we can now do to promote cross-border commerce,” said JCIDA Deputy CEO David J. Zembiec. “We’re targeting businesses in Canada that may want a U.S. presence, and also for the U.S. market to find opportunities there. We’re only a two-hour driving distance away.”

To that end, in 2010 the agency became a member of the International Manufacturing Innovation Networks, or iMiN, an economic development organization in Ontario. Mr. Zembiec, who is a member of a steering committee for the eastern Ontario region, has established a network of business contacts across the province in Belleville, Ottawa and Brockville.

Construction and manufacturing companies in Jefferson County also can take advantage of resources for doing business in Canada at the iMiN website, www.iminonline.ca. The site includes a list of active projects in Ontario, enabling companies here to respond to project requests from other companies.

“I’ve seen opportunities businesses might be interested in and emailed them,” Mr. Zembiec said.

The agency acquired a $10,000 matching grant from energy provider National Grid USA’s marketing program last year to launch a Canadian campaign to forge ties with businesses in Ontario. That funding will be used by JCIDA to offer educational workshops this spring in Canada, an informational website for Canadian businesses and an expanded advertising campaign to subscribe to manufacturing publications in the region.

Mr. Zembiec said the Canadian business workshop will offer a broad range of resources for those seeking to launch businesses in the United States.

“Research shows that if Canadians want to expand to the international market, the U.S. is the best country to start,” Mr. Zembiec said. “At the workshops, we want to provide them with specific information they might need to do business on this side of the border, describing the benefits and differences in banking practices here. We want to try to get them to locate in Jefferson County because we think it’s a good location. We have the Thousand Islands International Bridge and (link) to the Capital Corridor. And if you look at the key industries in Ontario, it’s very similar to the industries in our target markets for this region.”

Council member Jay M. Matteson, the Jefferson County agricultural coordinator, said recruiting agriculture businesses that have Canadian ties should also be a priority for the agency. “Our assets can attract agriculture companies here, whether it’s processors or manufacturers,” he said.

As an example of such a deal, Mr. Matteson underscored the company Morris Northstar Hatchery Inc. based in Miami, which in 2007 started a location at the Jefferson County Corporate Park off outer Coffeen Street. The majority of the company’s business is done in Canada, he said, as the hatchery now exports about 300,000 chicks every week.

“Our close proximity to Canada and the Interstate 81 corridor has made them successful,” he said. “We need to look at how we take resources we have to attract businesses elsewhere in the U.S. that want to be close to the border, or in Canada that want to come here.”

The JCIDA is coming a bit late to the party with this initiative; the Ogdensburg Bridge and Port Authority and the Business Development Corporation for a Greater Massena have had similar programs running for some time, including targeted advertising and cross-border business conferences.

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