New economic zone pushed
Atlantica hopes to erase border for economies of northern U.S.states, Atlantic Canada
BY KHALID MALIK, Telegraph-Journal
The founders of Atlantica hope that northeast Canada and the United States will become an economic entity to be reckoned with.
Sporting the slogan “Two Nations One Region”, the group aims to make invisible the border between New Brunswick and Maine. Its goal is to turn the region into one market of eight million people and to “raise Atlantic consciousness” with elected officials and business leaders.
The organization, which was approved by the Atlantic Provinces Chambers of Commerce and the Eastern Maine Development Corporation at a meeting in Bangor last month, convened officially for the first time on Thursday in Saint John. The group’s website – www.atlantica.org – was also launched.
“The beginning of the formulating of the region Atlantica is a historic moment,” said Neville Gilfoy, publisher of Progress business magazine and a representative to the Atlantic Provinces Chambers of Commerce.
Mr. Gilfoy was elected co-chair of Atlantica along with Jonathan Daniels, the president and chief executive officer of the Eastern Maine Development Corporation.
“In many respects it is a new way of thinking,” Mr. Gilfoy said. “We are going to collect what is going on in the region, package it and distribute it to the business community and governments in the region.
“We are going to become propagandists.” Representatives from upstate New York, southeastern Quebec, New Hampshire and Vermont will also be invited to join the group.
Brian Crowley, president of the Atlantic Institute of Market Studies, participated in the meeting via telephone from Halifax.
Mr. Crowley said 43 per cent of Canada-U.S. trade goes through the Atlantic region.
“We are a natural economic region and this economic region is disrupted by the border,” said Mr. Crowley, an economist. “We don’t think of ourselves as an effective region.
“We should speak with one single voice so other people will pay attention.”
The council plans to co-ordinate the activities of all groups working to enhance the economic activity in the region to ensure there is no duplication.
“If there are two or three different regions working on this we should find out what is going on,” Mr. Gilfoy said. Atlantica should be so visible that Ottawa and Washington, D.C., recognize it, he added.
Neil Jacobsen, chief operating officer of Enterprise Saint John, said the council should promote what businesses in the region are doing.
“Communities don’t need to fight with each other on attracting businesses,” he said.
Others attending the meeting were Dianne Kelderman, president of the APCC, Wade Merritt, senior trade specialist of the Maine International Trade Centre in Bangor, Sean Cooper, APCC’s regional executive director and Stephanie Turner, manager business development, Enterprise Greater Moncton.