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Special Report: BorderNet Alliance to create growth opportunities

TORONTO, Ont. - The executive director of a bi-national trade alliance says his organization's effort to create new business opportunities for Canadian and American companies in the Ontario-Upstate Ne...

TORONTO, Ont. – The executive director of a bi-national trade alliance says his organization’s effort to create new business opportunities for Canadian and American companies in the Ontario-Upstate New York border region would mean growth opportunities for cross-border truck trade.

“Right now 85 per cent of everything that goes across the border between Canada and the U.S. is picked up by trucks, and there’s a lot of intermodal transport of these trucks onto train tracks as well. I think the trucking industry plays an important role in this whole process and through the optimization of this bi-national region the truck industry is going to be a beneficiary of its activity,” says Willie Moskowitz, executive director of the Canada-U.S. BorderNet Alliance.

The BorderNet Alliance has developed a Web-based, business-to-business resource site that lets companies looking for expansion growth opportunities in what BorderNet calls the “bi-national region” around Lake Ontario – from Ottawa to Niagara, and Buffalo to Plattsburgh on the U.S. side – hook up with each other.

The Alliance, formed in 1999, is a private-sector organization trying to promote increased trade, tourism, investment, site selection and emerging technology exchange between Ontario and upstate New York.

It is a representation of companies in the manufacturing, banking, consulting, legal and technology sectors on both sides of the border.

BorderNet says it identified a need for some 300,000-plus companies in the Southern Ontario-upstate New York border region to use technology in order to communicate better with each other and take advantage of more than US$20 billion worth of cross-border trade in the region.

Moskowitz says until now, companies in the bi-national region have been missing significant opportunities “because there’s no direct strategic, focused way of companies meeting each other.”

Traditionally, Moskowitz says, companies looking for new businesses have paid “$20,000 or $30,000 for a consultant” to help them find a match.

“We’re allowing people, at very little or no cost to be able to find strategically on a focused basis their counterpart industry on either side of the border,” Moskowitz says.

“This is really breaking the mold of the way people thought they could or couldn’t do business now and in the past, and bringing it into a new threshold.”

The Alliance’s site,, includes a Web-based database in which companies looking for matches for their specific product or service can do a search using specific criteria.

The site also has an interactive component created with aerial images, satellite data, digital terrain data and 3-D software that gives users the ability to see a 3-D representation of available lands and buildings if they are looking for new facilities for relocation or expansion.

Fleets and owner/operators in southern Ontario, for example, could use the site to look up shippers on the New York side for whom they’re interested in bidding as a freight carrier.

Carriers in New York State could do the same thing in search of Canadian customers.

Moskowitz says for the trucking industry, increased economic activity between companies in the bi-national border region means they “are going to increase the amount of trucking requirements for these companies.”

“I think the trucking industry on both sides of the border is going to benefit through this,” Moskowitz said.

Moskowitz anticipates the site will be active in March or April.

The Alliance is still waiting to hear whether it will receive US$1 million in American federal funding.

He said the Alliance might also turn to the private sector for funding.

He says the BorderNet Alliance applied for Canadian federal funding, but Ottawa was only willing to contribute $100,000 towards the initiative.

“The federal government has suggested they don’t have a proper program to fund bi-national projects, so it’s become caught up in bureaucracy,” explains Moskowitz.

The site could be live 45 days after funding is received, he said.

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