Quebec delegate general, chamber president discuss American economy

PLATTSBURGH Though the nations economy is facing uncertainty following the recent financial devastation on Wall Street and the rejection of a $700 billion bailout plan by the U.S. House of Representatives, theres still optimism in the North Country and across the border. During a forum hosted at the Comfort Inn Tuesday regarding Nova Bus the Saint-Eustache, Quebec-firm which broke ground for a new transit bus assembly plant in the town of Plattsburgh earlier this year the discussion turned to the state of the local and national economies. Robert Keating, delegate general of Quebecs Ministry of International Relations, offered his views on the American economy. While the Canadian economy isnt experiencing the same problems as that of the United States, Keating did say he understands there will be an impact on economies across the globe. However, the state of the economy within the Quebec-New York Corridor is strong because of the long-term relationship parties on both sides of the border have established, said Keating. The Quebec-New York Corridor Agreement, signed in 2001 by the Plattsburgh-North Country Chamber of Commerce and the Federation of Chambers of Commerce of Quebec, was what Keating credited as the first step in forging the bond that promotes trade and development within the corridor. The Nova Bus project is one good example of an investment thats going on, thats going well ... were very much supportive of that, said Keating, who also referred to Bombardier Transportation as another prime example. The Montreal-based airplane and train manufacturer utilizes its facilities in Canada and in Plattsburgh to perform the overall construction of its trains. Businesses who have confidence in the Plattsburgh area such as Nova Bus and Bombardier advertise the North Country as playing a very pivotal role in the U.S. economic relationship with Quebec, said chamber of commerce president Garry F. Douglas. We always say at the chamber that if you want value from partnership, you have to impart value. You cant just say, We want, we want. You have to give, said Douglas. Collaborating with the Quebec government to establish the Champlain-Lacolle border crossing as a port of excellence has been one of the ways in which the chamber of commerce and local governments in the area have demonstrated that give, said Douglas. That, and the other things that weve worked with them on, has given us creditability in Montreal and Quebec that has given us deeper penetration in terms of reaching business connections and a higher profile, said Douglas. Its bringing us a return and its bringing them a return. Its easy right now to look at the news and find yourself dwelling on all the things that dont seem to be working, including Wall Street and our financial system, Douglas continued. That just makes it all the more important to value the things that are working, and, boy, is the Quebec-New York business relationship working for all of New York, but certainly most visibly in the North Country. In Clinton County, the growing population is benefiting from increased sales tax receipts, Douglas said, and a dynamic economic phenomenon thats surging back and forth between New York and Quebec. To a degree, what happens in Albany and Washington is almost irrelevant to us. Its not irrelevant, obviously theres a point at which things nationally and statewide we cant be totally unaffected by them. But, were performing well in spite of things in Albany and Washington because were doing the right things and will continue to do the right things. The Quebec-New York Economic Summit, the fourth in a series of summits established to address key issues between the U.S. and Canada such as the current state of the American economy, will be held in Montreal in November. For more information, visit the chamber of commerce Web site at www.northcountrychamber.com.

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