Proponents of trade bloc argue improving road, rail and air infrastructure will bring about regional economic renaissance
By David Shipley
It spans the
And, if its backers are right, it is a region on the edge of an economic revival – a trade bloc that can generate billions of dollars in economic spinoffs.
“What Atlantica is about is putting us on the road to the major destinations that drive the world economy, making us a crossroads of world trade,” said Brian Lee Crowley, president of the Atlantic Institute for Market Studies, “whereas before we’ve been on the margin of world trade.”
The institute is an economic and social policy lobby group and one of the core promoters of the Atlantica concept.
“The richest societies in the world are not the big, huge, powerful industrial manufacturing economies, they are the tiny little economies on their margins who act as kind of a conduit. They’re the people that move stuff back and forth in both directions,” says Mr. Crowley.
“You think about
But for Atlantica to fulfil its promise, it must first solve the hurdles to moving goods from north to south.
Transportation infrastructure – from ports to highways, railways and airports – is one of the issues under discussion this weekend at the Reaching Atlantica: Business Without Boundaries conference in
John Murphy, the head of the transportation group within J.D. Irving, Limited, is responsible for more than 1,600 people who help move goods by road, rail and by sea.
Mr. Murphy says while the
“There’s an opportunity to make this region a gateway to the industrial heartland of
Attracting such large-scale global commerce to Atlantica will draw resources to the region that will seed new manufacturing businesses, he says. And that, in turn, will be mean good-paying jobs for skilled labour.
For Tim Woodcock, a former mayor of
“With the passage of the Free Trade Agreement and NAFTA, both of which were intended to, at least for economic purposes, blur the international frontier, we began to enter an era in which commerce was going to be attracted or repelled from regions based on whatever advantages and efficiencies they offered,” Mr. Woodcock says.
“What should have happened in 1989 is there should have been a joint reassessment of the shared region to see whether it was structurally prepared to participate in this new regional economic competition,” says Mr. Woodcock, now a lawyer and founder of the East-West Highway Association in
Atlantica’s western neighbour is the
Also to the south, there is the an economic triangle which includes
With competition now on a larger regional basis, bolstering infrastructure links and working together to grow as a region are vital to future success, says Mr. Woodcock.
From where he sits in
“I think those two communities have begun to develop a very clear sense that their destinies are linked. I find it more and more the case in the
Developing a modern transportation corridor between the two cities is key to propelling the Atlantica bloc forward.
While Atlantic Canada has recognized the importance of developing its highways to its economy,
While provinces and states around
Loosening weight restrictions and lobbying for a new east-west highway in
“I think the other piece of this that we can’t forget about is the twinning of the
While improving highway infrastructure is important, other transportation issues – including increased co-operation among ports and improving railway links – are also critical.
“The corridor, the way I envision it, is port, rail, highway. It’s energy transmission.
“It’s basically anything that effectively moves people, ideas, investment, trade, commerce and tourists between our respective regions.”
Improving the links between ports and encouraging coastal shipping is a vital part of Atlantica and could help ease truck traffic congestion on the I-95 highway.
Such links are already beginning to surface, with a new sea shipping route now established between
One major piece of the transportation puzzle within Atlantica is the Canadian and
Mr. Jacobsen says with investments underway in St. Stephen for a new bridge and border crossing, along with upgrades already done in
“I do think where the opportunity lies is embracing new technology,” he says.
“Let’s put the absolute best and most state-of-the-art technology that we can put in place that will help screen the trade and people that legitimately need to flow and want to flow between our regions.”