Our region’s special economic integration with our northern neighbor has been the single greatest driving force in our economy for more than 25 years and — despite the protracted interruption of cross border travel from Canada — it remains so. And we have every reason to expect that the best is yet to come.
Our area’s diverse and dynamic manufacturing community — including our growing cluster of 50+ Transportation Equipment and Aerospace companies — remained strong through the pandemic in all but a few cases. Many saw significant growth over the last year-and-a-half, and several are very much in the planning stages for larger operations over the next year or two.
Add to this the pent-up plans by many Canadian and other international companies to make new investments on this side of the border — mostly on hold pending the ability to come across for meetings and site visits — and we can anticipate busy times ahead. And we and our partners such as TDC have been preparing in many ways, giving credence to Plattsburgh’s identification a few months ago by fDi (Financial Times of London) as #14 among cities in all the Americas for foreign direct investment strategy. They took note of a remarkable international place and how it used the partial “pause” of the pandemic to actively prepare for the future including website updates, the launch of our new FDI website, www. NYMTL.com, the continuation by successful virtual means of our interaction with Quebec companies planning to grow in the U.S., our related border advocacy efforts, and the expansion of our extensive tools and services in special support of our transportation equipment cluster via our NAmTrans initiative.
And we welcome the recent selection by Governor Hochul and the state of the Champlain Hudson Power Express project for final negotiations aimed at moving forward on an undertaking which will substantially enhance New York’s access to abundant clean hydropower in Quebec. Our Chamber has been a lead proponent of this innovative transmission project for a decade, seeing it as a major strategic expansion of the overall Quebec-New York economic partnership which will reinforce and encourage other bi-national initiatives in the clean/green economic development sector.
Only one impediment has remained, and that was clearing the way for Canadians to cross the land border. As of November 8th, vaccinated Canadians will finally be able to cross. There is more to be done on this front as we turn our attention to getting Canada to simplify its border crossing requirements, including dropping the required test before return. But this reopening has been a marathon and not a sprint and we will press on. This will include marketing plans ready to go that will provide information on general visitation and access to our airport for our neighbors to the north.
ONWARD AND UPWARD!
Garry Douglas is president of the North Country Chamber of Commerce.