Council of the Great Lakes Region Launches New Program to help SMEs Scale, Innovate, and Export


Council of the Great Lakes Region Launches New Program to help SMEs Scale, Innovate, and Export

October 17, 2018

Toronto, Ontario – Today the Council of the Great Lakes Region, in collaboration with Ryerson University, launched a new program called Great Lakes Ready. Utilizing the Magnet Export Business Portal as the backbone of the program, Great Lakes Ready will help small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in the Great Lakes region navigate the trade ecosystem. Piloting first in Ontario, the platform will match businesses to the full range of funding opportunities, capacity-building programs, events, trade missions and other advisory services that are available to help them scale, innovate and export. The ultimate goal is to position Ontario SMEs to compete and win in today’s global marketplace.

Thanks to increased trade liberalization, globalization has been put into hyperdrive, accelerating the flow of goods, services and capital around the world. To illustrate, world trade in goods and services increased dramatically from less than $10 trillion in 2003 to more than $23.2 trillion in 2013. Similarly, flows in foreign direct investment, $1.7 trillion in 2015, are reaching unprecedented levels and are expected to climb even more significantly by 2020.

As trade boundaries expand, there are tremendous opportunities for SMEs to innovate and enter the export market. Yet, many SMEs still struggle with becoming export ready, as capacity constraints limit their ability to understand markets, customs, financing, shipping, or even the long list of support programs that are made available by government agencies and chambers of commerce to support their growth and global business plans. Great Lakes Ready will make it a lot easier for companies to overcome these challenges by bringing all of this information together in one location, both online and through in-person workshops. To learn more and sign-up, please visit or


“Over 650,000 small and medium sized enterprises are located in Ontario and Quebec, or 56% of all SMEs in Canada, supporting roughly 6.4 million Canadian jobs. But only a small percentage of them are growing and exporting,” said Mark Fisher, President and CEO of the Council of the Great Lakes Region. “Great Lakes Ready will simplify their path to growth and the expanding export market by providing SME’s the right intelligence and advice at the right time in their development.”

“Ontario businesses are inundated with programs and services to support business growth, and yet, identifying the right opportunities for each business’ unique needs remains a barrier to make use of many of them” said Mark Patterson, Executive Director of Magnet. “Partnering with the Council of the Great Lakes Region makes it easier for businesses in the region to connect and leverage the opportunities available, strengthening our joint efforts to help businesses grow and thrive.”

About the Magnet Export Business Portal

A first-of-its-kind in North America, Magnet harnesses intelligent matching technology, data and analytics to effectively connect people, businesses and organizations to opportunity. Magnet’s latest innovation is the Export Business Portal, a powerful platform designed to match relevant and timely export events and opportunities to Canadian businesses of all sizes, based on their export-readiness, sector, location and goals.

Funded by the Ontario Ministry of Economic Development, Job Creation and Trade, the Magnet Export Business Portal harnesses resources and services from the Government of Ontario, Export Development Canada, Business Development Bank of Canada, and Global Affairs Canada, and delivers them directly to the business using push notifications and a customized dashboard. This next generation technology will simplify pathways to navigating Ontario’s trade ecosystem.

About the Council of the Great Lakes Region

The Council is a binational non-profit organization that is dedicated to deepening the United States-Canada relationship in the Great Lakes Region. Its focus is on creating a stronger, more dynamic culture of collaboration in harnessing the Region’s economic strengths and assets, improving the well-being and prosperity of the Region’s citizens, and protecting the Great Lakes for future generations. It achieves this mandate through policy research and programs, connecting leaders from all levels of government, industry, academia and the non-profit sector, and acting as a strong voice for the Region’s varied economic, social and environmental interests.

For more information

Mark Fisher
President and CEO / 613-668-2044

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