Press-Republican

February 20, 2013

Quebec-New York relationship crucial

DAN HEATH
Press-Republican

PLATTSBURGH — The Quebec-New York economic relationship is important to both regions, newly appointed Quebec Delegate General to New York André Boisclair says.

The province’s relationship with New York state — and with the North Country — helps Quebec companies export to the United States but also helps create more jobs in this region, he noted. And the number of Canadian companies with North Country locations helps stabilize this area during difficult economic times.

According to Statistics Canada, New York and Quebec had $7.1 billion in bilateral trade in 2010, making the state the province’s largest trading partner.

The two sides are not fighting for a larger share of the economic pie, Boisclair said, but looking for ways to make a larger pie.

“That is a modern, efficient way to expand this (Quebec-New York) relationship,” Boisclair said.

He has already had meetings with state and local officials, including the North Country Chamber of Commerce. 

EUROPE DOORWAY

When Bombardier and Nova Bus land new contracts for the Plattsburgh plants, it also leads to more engineering, design and service work at the Quebec locations of those companies, Boisclair pointed out.

Nova Bus is a prime example of how the relationship can go beyond the Quebec-New York Corridor. The company is part of the Volvo group, based in Europe.

Volvo Group uses the Nova Bus locations in Quebec for management and design of buses built in Plattsburgh. Those buses are then purchased by entities such as the Metropolitan Transit Authority in New York City.

“Quebec can be the entrance for many European companies to the North American market,” Boisclair said.

POWER PROJECT

Another example is the Champlain-Hudson Power Express project. The privately funded U.S. venture would build a 1,000-megawatt direct-transmission line from near Montreal to the New York City area.

Boisclair said HydroQuebec could buy up to 70 percent of the line’s capacity to bring environmentally friendly hydroelectric power to an under-served, high-priced market at low cost.

The project continues to move forward after the most recent findings from the New York Public Service Commission.

“This is a great example of where we can extend our collaboration,” Boisclair told the Press-Republican.

RAIL INVESTMENT

The new extension of Autoroute 30 from Chateaugay to Autoroute 20 at Vaudreil-Dorion will save transport vehicles a lot of time but also relieve emissions and traffic on the island of Montreal, Boisclair said. 

It eliminates the need to travel across Montreal to reach the Mercier Bridge for access to Autoroute 15 south to the United States. 

Because of that, Boisclair said, U.S.-based rail company CSX is investing in a new $100 million intermodal rail terminal and rail-line extension in nearby Salaberry-de-Valleyfield.

HIGH-TECH SECTORS

Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s call for innovation and technology hubs in the Regional Economic Development Council plans was of particular interest to Boisclair, as the province is a leader in Canada’s high-tech sectors. 

He has also held initial meetings with State University of New York officials. Nanotechnology development in the Albany area is of interest because Quebec also has a strong presence in that field, as well.

COMMON GOALS

IBM’s presence in New York state and at its C2MI center in Bromont, Quebec, is another example of how a company can share its expertise across borders, Boisclair said. The firm is working with other high-tech partners to develop the next generation of microchips.

Quebec is committed to global leadership on the climate-change issue, he said. That includes a recent cap-and-trade agreement with California that would align policies in that field.

Boisclair believes there is a chance for cap-and-trade collaboration between Quebec and New York.

Quebec also has an initiative to help create 100-percent-electric mass-transit buses. He said that could be as soon as 2016.

The province is one year away from elimination of its budget deficit, Boisclair said. 

“If we have a strong Quebec economy, a strong Montreal economy, that’s good for Plattsburgh and Clinton County.

“The more we can have common objectives, common goals, the better our economies will be.” 

Email Dan Heath: dheath@pressrepublican.com