By Robert Frank
Laval Technopole plans to follow in the footsteps of firms like Bank of Montreal and Canadian National Railways that have found fortune in the American Midwest.
Next stop on the trade promotion agency’s round of trade missions is Chicago.
“We sent Laval businesses an invitation, Jan. 29, to go to Chicago in June,” Technopole international business centre interim director Bruno Séguin told The Suburban.
“We usually recruit about five Laval companies to participate in our trade missions, where we set up to eight meetings for each firm with potential customers and distributors there,” he said in an interview.
“It’s the major city of the Midwest and the third-largest in the United States,” Séguin enthused about potential Chicago-Laval links. “We considered Texas when we sized up potential destinations last year, but Chicago proved more interesting.”
Oil, dollar’s fall help
The Suburban reached Séguin just after a Jan. 30 conference, where bank economists forecast that anticipated ample growth opportunities for Quebec businesses in American markets this year.
“The global economy might be on the rocks, but the United States’ economy is booming,” he reported. “The impetus behind going to Chicago is that we expect it to emerge as a top market for Laval companies during the next few years—so we have to go now.”
The low Canadian dollar coupled with low energy prices gave firms here a renewed advantage, Séguin added.
“Chicago is a good market with many decisionmakers and head offices,” he said. “We have a lot of interest from companies there, which will permit us to set up meetings that would never be possible through cold calling.”
Séguin added that he expects a very wide range of potential participants in the Chicago trade mission.
“We will bring a group of companies whose businesses are completely unrelated,” he explained. “One could be a web agency and another a furniture manufacturer. It doesn’t matter. We will arrange appropriate meetings tailored to each of them.”
Last year, Technopole brought Laval businesspeople to places like California and Vancouver.
“Chicago should be even better,” Séguin predicted. “It’s a much bigger market and it’s closer, though not so close that we have a lot of existing links there.”
Firms that would like to learn more about participating in the pending Chicago trade mission can find out how to reach Séguin’s by visiting www.lavaltechnopole.com and clicking on the international business centre link.
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