Friday, June 13, 2008

Governor Perdue to Launch Historic SEUS-Canadian Provinces Alliance with Inaugural Conference in Savannah

Georgia Governor Sonny Perdue will welcome representatives from six southeastern states and seven Canadian provinces to Savannah this weekend for the inaugural SEUS-Canadian Provinces Alliance conference.

“We are honored to host the inaugural SEUS-Canadian Provinces Alliance conference in Savannah,” said Governor Perdue. “I believe this alliance is the start of a very fruitful relationship for Georgia and all the states and provinces that are participating.”

The SEUS-CP (Southeastern United States-Canadian Provinces) event is a historic alliance among the Southeastern states of Alabama, Georgia, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina and Tennessee, and Canadian provinces of Manitoba, New Brunswick, Newfoundland and Labrador, Nova Scotia, Ontario, Prince Edward Island and Québec.

Governor Perdue is one of the hosts of the inaugural event, along with Premier Jean Charest of Québec.

The idea for a SEUS-Canadian Provinces Alliance, modeled after the extremely successful 32-year SEUS-Japan association, coalesced during a June 2006 meeting among officials from the Georgia Department of Economic Development (GDEcD), the U.S. Embassy in Canada, and the Canadian Consulate General for the Southeastern U.S. in Atlanta. Following a number of planning meetings, the states and provinces met in Montréal in November 2007 to sign the association’s charter.

The goals of the Alliance are to present opportunities for businesses to enhance commercial exchanges, promote two-way investment, and encourage technological and scientific exchanges between and among the States and Provinces. Georgia’s specific goal is to promote the export of Georgia goods to Canada, while encouraging Canadian investment to Georgia. Canadian-owned company facilities in Georgia currently represent an investment of $2.58 billion.

“Canada has long been Georgia’s top trading partner, and its business community is a key investor in our state,” said Ken Stewart, commissioner of the Georgia Department of Economic Development. “Savannah is truly an ideal setting to showcase our Southern hospitality and business assets to the visiting delegates.”

The inaugural conference will kick off with state receptions and dinner hosted by Governor Perdue on Sunday, June 15. On Monday, the conference will include an opening ceremony, two workshop sessions and a press conference. Tours of Savannah-area points of interest are planned for Tuesday morning, and the conference will wrap up Tuesday afternoon with a closing luncheon.

Robert S. Jepson of Savannah is the American co-chair of the SEUS-Canadian Provinces Alliance conference. Jepson is chairman and CEO of Jepson Associates, a private investment company, and he was formerly chairman and CEO of Kuhlman Corporation and CEO/principal shareholder of Jepson Corporation.

The Canadian co-chair, appointed by Premier Jean Charest of Québec, is Mr. Jean-Luc Trahan, president and general manager, Québec Manufacturers and Exporters Association.

Dozens of Canadian companies have locations in Georgia and Georgia companies have an equally strong presence in Canada. Georgia has operated a trade office in Canada since 1981, and Canada has had a consulate in Atlanta since 1973. Georgia is also host to the Quebec Trade & Investment Office and the Canadian-American Society of the Southeast U.S., a bi-national business association. Georgia’s 2007 exports to Canada totaled nearly $4.4 billion. Georgia imports from Canada through the Savannah Customs District totaled $354 million in 2007.

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