Commerce Secretary Greg Canfield will lead an Alabama delegation to Montréal for the 12th edition of the Southeastern United States-Canadian Provinces Alliance Conference, an annual gathering that showcases common economic ties and a strong trade relationship.
SEUS-CP, as the conference is known, runs Sunday through Tuesday in Québec’s largest city. The event, whose theme this year is “Prosperity Through Smart Mobility,” includes networking opportunities, business-to-business meetings and high-level panel discussions.
Canfield said the SEUS-CP conference provides a platform to identify new areas of common ground to form new partnerships, fuel investments and create jobs in Southeastern and Canadian communities.
“Through this annual event we continue to successfully strengthen our state’s trade and investment relationship with Canada by developing and renewing relationships with our counterparts in the six provinces,” he said.
“One of the successes comes from the opportunity for business and industry leaders from each member state and province to participate in the exchange of ideas and development of new business partnerships.”
Canada is a Top 5 foreign investor in Alabama as well as a major trade partner, figures from the Alabama Department of Commerce show.
Since 2014, Canadian companies have poured more than $1 billion in new capital investment into Alabama, creating more than 1,800 jobs. Last year alone, Canadian companies invested $67 million in Alabama projects that sparked the creation of 222 jobs, figures show.
Meanwhile, two-way trade between Alabama and Canada is brisk. Alabama companies exported just over $4 billion in goods such as motor vehicles, industrial machinery, steel and aircraft parts to Canada in 2018. In return, Canadian companies sent $3.1 billion in goods to Alabama.
“The state of Alabama values its ties with Canada and views the U.S.-Canada relationship as truly special. We are linked together in so many ways and are more than buyers and sellers of one another’s products,” Canfield said.
“In this day and time, it is critical that the SEUS-CP alliance continues to fulfill its mission to develop common strategic goals and open the door for trade between the member provinces and states,” he said.
Economic ties with Canada figure prominently in the overall SEUS region, which along with Alabama includes Georgia, Mississippi, Tennessee, North Carolina and South Carolina.
Alabama companies and organizations included in the delegation for SEUS-CP are Auburn’s Archangel Systems, a maker of aircraft avionics; Mobile’s Page & Jones Inc., a shipping logistics firm; and Birmingham’s Regions Bank.
Bill Dillard, director of sales and marketing at Archangel, said SEUS-CP represents an important event for his company, thanks to the high-caliber delegates present from both Canada and the Southeastern states.
Dillard said Archangel is seeking to expand its brand in the Canadian aerospace sector, develop relationships with representatives of U.S. companies at the conference, and conduct a scheduled off-site meeting with a major avionics manufacturer.
“The flexibility of the SEUS-CP itinerary makes that possible,” he said. “It’s hard to believe we get all of that done in just two days.”
Corey Jones, director of operations at Innovation PortAL, a Mobile entrepreneurial hub, said SEUS-CP will provide him with the opportunity to gain new insights on best practices and to make valuable connections.
“I’m thrilled for this opportunity, and I’m also greatly looking forward to remaining in Montréal for the global summit on smart mobility, Movin’On,” Jones said.
“My hope is to walk away from this visit with a better understanding of opportunities for smart mobility in south Alabama and to form relationships that are fruitful for Innovation PortAL clients and mentors.”
Joining Canfield in the delegation are Ed Castile, director of AIDT and deputy secretary of the Alabama Department of Commerce, and trade officials from across the state, including Hilda Lockhart, director of the department’s Office of International Trade.
Lockhart said companies involved in this year’s conference have the opportunity to meet with Canadian and Southeastern counterparts in the smart mobility sector, which involves novel information technologies and advances in transportation modes and systems.
“The SEUS-CP conference is unique in that it includes a robust business-to-business matchmaking program that encourages trade and business development between the member regions,” Lockhart said.
“Aside from the B2B meetings, the conference provides a platform to discuss how the Canadian and U.S. business communities can work together to protect our vital bilateral relationship and to advocate even greater cooperation,” she said.
This story originally appeared on the Alabama Department of Commerce’s Made in Alabama website.