For at least the 28th year, the Board and management staff of the North Country Chamber of Commerce engaged in an annual Strategic Planning Retreat recently in Lake Placid. The purpose was to assess our progress and performance over the prior twelve months, update our strategies and priorities for the year ahead and solidify our role in the North Country economy.
We were privileged to have Robert Thomas, U.S. Consul General in Montreal, as our main after dinner speaker, along with Senator Betty Little and Assemblyman Billy Jones. The Consul General provided valuable and timely insights regarding the state and direction of the U.S.-Canadian economic relationship which of course is pivotal to all aspects of our region. A key observation is that the U.S.-Canada relationship, unlike other bilateral relationships, continues to be sustained and defined more by the people to people relationships furthered through direct cross border activities such as those we constantly engage in than by high end government to government matters. That is what is preserving the special connection through challenging times and will continue to do so.
A Government Affairs session in the morning included partners from the Business Council of N.Y.S., Unshackle Upstate and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. Besides prognostications regarding 2020 federal and state dynamics, we reaffirmed the importance of our proven ability to positively transition through changes in officials and majorities, keeping our focus on furthering North Country issues and projects through positive relationships.
We had a highly impressive presentation of the accelerating work of our North American Center of Excellence for Transportation Equipment, and all that it is doing and planning not only for our Transportation Equipment & Aerospace cluster but for manufacturing generally.
And we spent a good deal of time on workforce development, which is far and away the current priority for employers of all types and sizes. In addition to recommitting ourselves to existing programs as well as to the maximization of such assets as Clinton Community College, CV-TEC and Clarkson University, we finalized and reviewed our multifaceted set of new and enhanced programs recently forwarded to the state: NORTH COUNTRY WORKS. We look forward to a dialogue with the state in the weeks ahead and hope to be able to implement several initiatives in the new year.
Not overlooked were our ongoing commitment to marketing and development at Plattsburgh International Airport, promotion in Canada of our recently launched U.S. Customs clearance operations for general aircraft, and to the upcoming development of shovel ready industrial space at the old airport site, plus our continued commitment to the success of the Strand Center for the Arts.
Our ambitious plans for tourism marketing and development in 2020 remain a special commitment, both as a key part of the regional economy and also as a major contributor to our quality of life. Related interests include continued progress in the development of new and upgraded accommodations across the region, especially in the Adirondacks, and continued support for the upcoming World University Games in 2023 along with other international sports initiatives.
The overarching importance of regionalism was accented by inviting representatives from all of our Partner Community Chambers in our five-county area to join us for lunch, followed by presentations and discussions centering on various small business services. We will also remain engaged in a number of issues and projects around the region, from the need to enhance cell service to several specific economic development endeavors.
In December, the results of our Retreat will help to finalize a 2020 Business Plan and an updated set of Strategic Priorities for the year ahead. We are ready for the challenges and enthusiastic about the opportunities ahead.