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17 Oct


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

October 17, 2018 | By |

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

02 Oct


CGLR Statement on the New Trade Agreement between the United States, Canada, and Mexico

October 2, 2018 | By |

October 3, 2018

Toronto, Ontario and Cleveland, Ohio – Mark Fisher, President and CEO of the Council of the Great Lakes Region (CGLR), issued the following statement today after reviewing the agreement reached between the Parties:

“CGLR commends negotiators for finalizing a new United States-Mexico-Canada trade agreement (USMCA) that updates many elements of the North American Free Trade Agreement. The binational Great Lakes Region, shared by eight US states and the Canadian provinces of Ontario and Quebec, is the economic engine of the North American economy, and is responsible for a significant amount of the goods, services, labor and investment flows that cross the US – Canada border every year.

The agreement reached provides certainty to the Region’s manufacturers, investors, shippers, innovators, and farmers at a time when the global economy is becoming more competitive and increasingly borderless. We are especially pleased with the new provisions that will govern digital trade, small and medium-sized enterprises, customs and trade facilitation, regulatory cooperation, counterfeit goods, copyright, patent protection, grain certifications, and telecommunications.

CGLR also recognizes the changes that will increase market access across the continent for food products made in the Great Lakes, especially dairy, poultry, and eggs. However, it is our belief that more can be done to fix oversupply in the region and low price contracts for hardworking family farmers in the US while helping Great Lakes farmers on both sides of the border take advantage of new export opportunities in North America and around the world so that they can stay in business.

We recognize the steps that have been taken to make the North American auto industry more fair, continental, and competitive by amending the rules of origin provisions. We will be monitoring the implementation of these changes closely to ensure there are no unintended consequences for the Great Lakes automotive sector and negative impacts on consumers.

We are disappointed that NAFTA’s professional categories in the chapter governing the Temporary Entry for Business Persons were untouched; although we recognize it is difficult to negotiate changes amidst the ongoing immigration reform debate in the US. The existing categories make it harder for the Great Lakes Region to attract global talent and utilize professionals and skilled laborers residing on one side of the border or the other in responding to short-term labor market gaps.

Finally, while the s. 232 tariffs applied against the steel and aluminum industries in Canada and Mexico were separate from the USMCA negotiations, we are concerned that they remain in place given the new rules requiring automakers and parts suppliers to source 70% of their steel and aluminum from North America (i.e. the Great Lakes). We understand the Parties have committed to discuss this issue in due course. We hope they will be removed immediately.

In conclusion, we recognize the complexities associated with modernizing a trade agreement when a strong economic partnership already exists between the member states. The USMCA agreement is a step in the right direction, and we hope the Parties will continue strengthening the North American economic platform and the competitiveness of regional economies like the Great Lakes through the Agreement’s various working groups. CGLR will be reviewing the terms of the agreement in greater detail with its members and we stand ready to assist future discussions anyway that it can.”

About the Council

The member-driven Council of the Great Lakes Region was launched in 2013 to create a stronger and more dynamic culture of collaboration between all levels of government, industry, academia, and the non-profit sector in the Great Lakes Region in finding new ways of 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.

For more information

Mark Fisher
President and CEO

15 Jun


Untapped Opportunities: Regulatory Cooperation in the Great Lakes

June 15, 2018 | By |

Advancing Regulatory Cooperation in the Great Lakes Region

This report provides a rational for regulatory cooperation within the binational Great Lakes Region and proposes some potential first steps to initiate a dialogue between New York, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Michigan, Indiana, Illinois, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Ontario and Quebec.
Read More

12 Jun


CN’s proposed intermodal hub in Milton, Ontario

June 12, 2018 | By |

June 12, 2018

Ms. Lesley Griffiths
Chair of the Review Panel for the Milton Logistics Hub Project
c/o Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency
160 Elgin Street, 22nd Floor
Place Bell Canada
Ottawa, Ontario
K1A 0H3

Dear Ms. Griffiths:

I’m writing to support CN’s proposal to build and operate a new intermodal hub in Milton, Ontario.

The importance of the Great Lakes economic region cannot be overstated. Shared by eight U.S. states and two Canadian provinces, the region is home to 107 million people. Further, with economic output estimated at US$6 trillion in 2017, the region accounts for 30% of combined Canadian and U.S. economic activity and employment, or 51 million jobs.

As the region, particularly Ontario, positions itself to compete and win in today’s global climate of borderless trade, accessing developed and emerging markets around the world will be crucial for success and will depend heavily on a connected transportation system that is adaptive and resilient to change and uncertainty.

However, our research has shown that there is a lack of intermodal rail and inland port capacity around major transportation hubs in the Great Lakes, including in the Great Toronto Hamilton Area (GTHA). Without this critical infrastructure, Ontario will not live up to its growth potential. Moreover, more goods will travel by truck, increasing road congestion as well source greenhouse gas emissions from trucks.

We appreciate the diverse perspectives that exist regarding this trade enabling project, and recognize that there are significant challenges to making this type of investment, including lack of adequate appropriately zoned corridors and industrial land, encroachment on available corridors and industrial land, cumbersome regulatory review and permitting processes, and public resistance to transportation–related development.

Nevertheless, it is the Council’s view that a world-class intermodal facility can be built and operated in a manner that provides long-term economic, social and environmental benefits to the GTHA, Ontario and Canada. Maintaining the status quo can have the unintended consequence of curbing the GTHA’s, Ontario’s and Canada’s growth and competitiveness on a global stage.

For example, it is the Council’s opinion that CN’s new intermodal terminal in Milton, Ontario is not only necessary from an economic development perspective, it is vital for Ontario and Canada to take full advantage of global commerce through agreements like the Canada-European Union (EU) Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement, as well as the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership once it is ratified.

Thank you for considering the Council’s input on this important project.

Yours Sincerely,

Signed original sent by mail

Mark P. Fisher
President and CEO

c.c.: Dr. Isobel Heathcote
Mr. William McMurray

10 May


Current: Spring / Summer 2018

May 10, 2018 | By |

Your complete source for economic and environmental policy news in the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence Region and activities of the Council of the Great Lakes Region. Read More