An idea that would tighten the links between Atlantic Canada and the northeastern United States is catching the eye of regional governments and business groups. Atlantica would see provinces and states from northern New York state to Newfoundland come together as an economic entity.

Perry Newman, a driving force behind the idea, visited Fredericton Wednesday night to pitch the concept.

“We’re intrigued by the concept,” said Don Fitzgerald, executive director of Team Fredericton. He said any move to bring the regions together is a good step.

“Anything that we can do to integrate those economies should be for the benefit of all,” Fitzgerald said.

Atlantica is a fairly new idea that arose out of the collaboration of business leaders, politicians and academics from Atlantic Canada and the northeastern United States.

The concept essentially seeks to establish structures that would bring together Atlantic Canada and the northeastern U.S. states. For example, the concept seeks to get the provinces and states involved to share resources and collaborate on the establishment of centres of excellence in the area.

Joint efforts on economic development and better transportation links are also key features of the idea. The goal of Atlantica is to organize the region in a way to allow it to better tap into global trade.

Fitzgerald said Fredericton would fit into the concept “as a key component.” The city has great research and development resources to show off, he said, but local issues should not become clouded in the movement. The idea has been on Team Fredericton’s radar, Fitzgerald said, but it needs more work.

Stephane Robichaud, regional vice-president of the Canadian Federation of Independent Business, says the movement has merit.

“I think it’s a positive idea,” he said, “as closer ties offer many benefits.” One example is lower costs for businesses, he said.

Jurisdictions also often offer ideas that would work well in another jurisdiction, Robichaud said. To that end, he called on Atlantic Canada to make progress on coming together better while the region entertains the Atlantica idea. The region has moved forward on the issue, Robichaud said, but more work is needed.

He said businesses need the right environment to grow and become ready to compete in large markets, adding the area must find ways to make life easier for entrepeneurs. Better transportation infrastructure is a key part of that, Robichaud said.

An Atlantica economic entity would boast a market of tens of millions of people and billions of dollars in annual economic activity.

“Our region has a unique chance,” said Brian Lee Crowley, president of the Halifax-based Atlantic Institute for Market Studies. Crowley touted the concept as a way to significantly boost the standard of living in traditionally hard-hit economic areas.

He said the living standards would likely increase by 20 to 30 per cent. He envisions Atlantica as a gateway to North America with the port of Halifax as key feature.

Three trade corridors would run from the port, Crowley said — one to Boston through southern New Brunswick, one to Montreal and Chicago that would take in the northern part of the province, and another that would cut through New Brunswick and New England to Ontario.