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Montpelier, Vt. - State and local officials today hosted a delegation of 50 representatives from Montreal area businesses, industry associations, and entrepreneurs exploring an expansion into the U.S. market. This event represents a concerted effort to develop or retain connections with Vermont’s largest trade partner and foreign direct investment clients by bringing together entities from Vermont and Canada to share best practices, encourage innovation, and increase bi-lateral trade. It builds on a recent trade mission to Quebec and participation in the Supply Chain Manufacturing Summit, during which Governor Phil Scott and members of his Administration met with Canadian companies seeking to grow in Vermont.
“Strengthening Vermont’s economy remains one of my Administration’s top priorities, and helping businesses create and retain jobs in Vermont is key to this work,” said Governor Scott. “That is why it’s so important for us to connect with more companies north of the border who we know have an interest in establishing a footprint in the United States and identify opportunities for them to make Vermont their U.S. home.”
Of seven prospective business recruits identified during previous events, two traveled to Vermont this week to continue the conversation about expanding into the state. The Canadian cohort represents established businesses and startups from the advanced manufacturing, renewable energy, aerospace, financial services, and agriculture sectors. These companies met with partners; investors; economic development organizations; associations; regional institutions; sector representatives; government officials; financial investment, real estate, and legal firms; and existing Vermont-based Canadian companies.
"We are honored today to visit our friends from Vermont,” said Michel Belval, President of the American Chamber of Commerce in Quebec. “The relationship between Quebec and Vermont is more than business, visiting Vermont is like going to see our neighbors or family. This event allows us to continue to build our partnership.”
Vermont's economic ties with Canada result in $5 billion in trade annually. Quebec is Vermont’s largest international trading partner, and Vermont is Quebec’s second largest economic partner in New England. About one-third of the workforce in the Northeast relies on the relationship with Canada and, in Vermont, 73 Canadian-owned businesses employed nearly 3,000 people as of 2021.
“Fostering relationships with our neighbors to the north is incredibly important in strengthening our trade,” said Agency of Commerce and Community Development (ACCD) Secretary Lindsay Kurrle. “Our ongoing meetings with Canadian companies looking to grow in the U.S. market reinforce that Vermont is an attractive destination and our proximity to the border and ease of access to Montreal continue to be great strengths as Vermont works to attract these companies.”
ACCD continues to work with in-market trade representative CIDEP, a result of an Agency budget request during the 2021 legislative session, to ensure Vermont has a full-time presence in Montreal performing recruitment and investment outreach within the Quebec province. CIDEP connects us with companies who are looking to grow and builds a pipeline of potential business recruits looking to expand in Vermont.
“As we look to the future, we want to continue to encourage Canadian companies to invest here in Vermont,” said Department of Economic Development Commissioner Joan Goldstein. “It is a unique opportunity and relationship, one that can help enhance our communities and grow our economy – as we seek to further Vermont’s reputation as a great place to live, work, and play – and attract not just companies but new workforce as well.”
This event was funded in part through a grant with the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA). The State Trade Expansion Program (STEP) awards funding to small businesses to offset costs associated with entering or expanding into international markets. Funds may be used for activities such as participation in foreign trade missions, export training and compliance, and international website enhancements. To support businesses in exporting their products, Vermont has received an award in each of the ten consecutive rounds of STEP funding, totaling more than $2.5 million since the program was established in 2010.
To learn more about STEP visit www.accd.vermont.gov/STEP.
To learn more about Vermont’s bilateral trade relationship with Canada, please reference remarks made at this September 13 Press Briefing.