Trade mission promotes Niagara's advantages

by The Tribune

Canada and more specifically the Hamilton-Niagara region is the place to do business local representatives told businesses in three Colombian cities last week.

And the international trade and investment mission – a joint partnership between the City of Welland, Niagara Region, Niagara College and the City of Hamilton – may have already paid off, says Welland’s economic development officer Lina DeChellis.

DeChellis says the group traveled to Bogota, Barranquilla, and Medellin, between September 2 and 9, and had 30 meetings with various businesses and companies in those cities.

“There were an additional five to six additional companies represented at these meetings,” she says. “It was an exploratory mission to build partnerships.

She says talks focused on the Colombians interest in the North American market.

“When they spoke about the market, they were focused more on the U.S. We were trying to change their focus and have them also look at Canada as a place to do business.”

DeChellis says the Hamilton-Niagara region was focused on and the group piqued the interest of some of the Colombian businesses.

“They didn’t really consider this area before and now we have some of them thinking about it as opposed to the U.S. We spoke about the positives of being in the Hamilton-Niagara area.”

She says the focus was on how close the region is to the U.S. border and that within a day’s drive, Colombian companies would have access to more than 130 million in the States and Canada.

Some of the companies and businesses the group met with included the fruit processing industry, advanced manufacturing sector, software, digital and video gaming industry – areas the two regions are strong in.

“Our next step is to follow up on all the questions and information requested by the companies. A couple of the food processing companies definitely seemed to have an interest in the area. Hopefully, we can get some of them to come and visit … maybe there are partnerships here they could build on.”

DeChellis says the Hamilton-Niagara came out of the 2015 Pan-Am Games, held in Toronto and locations in Hamilton and Niagara, as well.

“It was a good opportunity to meet with people visiting from the Pan-Am countries and offer tours of the area. We worked with Pro-Colombia, out of Toronto, who had a delegation come down and visit the area.”

Also on the mission from Niagara were Tim Reynolds, manager, trade and investment with Niagara Economic Development Office, and Abbas Sumar, Niagara College’s associate director of global strategy.