Business leaders from across Canada and the Southeastern U.S. will gather in Mobile this week to seek new trade and investment opportunities and continue to build on already strong partnerships.
The 11th Annual Southeastern United States – Canadian Provinces (SEUS-CP) Alliance Conference kicks off today in the Port City, with more than 240 participants from the public and private sectors expected to attend.
Alabama’s role as host of the conference is a chance to showcase the state, as well as the entire Southeastern U.S., as a premier place to do business, said Greg Canfield, secretary of the Alabama Department of Commerce.
“We are excited to welcome the SEUS Canada delegates and show off the dynamic global business community that is flourishing in Mobile and across the state,” he said.
“At the same time, we’re eager to find new areas of common ground where we can build partnerships, fuel investments and create jobs in U.S. and Canadian communities.”
Canada is a Top 5 foreign investor in Alabama. Since 1999, Canadian companies have poured more than $2.5 billion in capital investment in Alabama, creating an estimated 5,700 jobs, according to Commerce data.
Meanwhile, the country also figures prominently in the overall SEUS region, which along with Alabama includes Georgia, Mississippi, Tennessee, North Carolina and South Carolina.
Two-way trade between Canada and the SEUS states topped $50 billion in 2017. Top Southeastern exports include transportation equipment, machinery, computer and electronic products and chemicals, while top Canadian imports in the region are chemicals, transportation equipment, machinery, plastics and rubber products.
Mobile is thrilled to host SEUS Canada, said Bill Sisson, president and CEO of the Mobile Area Chamber of Commerce.
“Mobile is home to more than 50 international investments, contributing to our city’s diversified economy,” he said. “During the past few years alone, we’ve been proud to welcome Canadian companies Danby Products and Canfor Southern Pine, with both companies expanding operations here. And most recently we’ve celebrated the new partnership between Airbus and Bombardier.
“We look forward to continued alliances with Canada and look forward to welcoming this prestigious group to Mobile,” Sisson added.
The conference is designed to incorporate business-to-business matchmaking that will facilitate new international partnerships, said Hilda Lockhart, director of the Commerce Department’s Office of International Trade.
“These meetings are convened to help small-to-midsize businesses find an export path to Canada and vice versa,” she said. “The Alabama companies that are serving as the anchors for these matchmaking meetings certainly represent some of the state’s premier industries. The industry sectors highlighted at this conference include transportation, energy, and information and communications technology.
“All Alliance members are heavily involved in one or more of these sectors, thus enabling companies to participate and meet with possible business partners,” she added.
Lockhart said conference sessions will address key topics of interest to both Canada and the U.S., including increased energy demands prompted by the rise of electric vehicles and the challenges of adapting to the technology transformations of the Fourth Industrial Revolution.
Workforce development is always a popular topic at the annual conference, and this year’s keynote speaker is Cam Marston. He is an author, columnist, blogger and lecturer who will address how generational demographics are changing the business landscape.
“Of course, the conference will engage in talks about trade and investment opportunities and examine upcoming trends to expand our two-way business relationship and how we all stand to gain by further strengthening our partnerships with one another,” Lockhart said.
“This is what we believe makes the SEUS-CP annual conference a success and achieves the goal of the Alliance – advancing economic ties and exchange of innovative technologies.”
This story originally appeared on the Alabama Department of Commerce’s Made in Alabama website.