“This would be my fourth Northern Networks Trade Conference that I’ve attended and it was an overwhelming success,” said NorFab general manager Brian Hagarty, who was one of more than 100 business and community reps who attended the two-day conference last week.
“It’s an opportunity for people to get together, exchange business cards, and get ideas,” added Hagarty.
The seventh-annual conference, hosted by International Falls this year, attracted delegates from across Northwestern Ontario as well as from northern U.S. states such as Minnesota, Wisconsin, and North Dakota.
“It went very well. I was very pleased and we had a lot of compliments,” said International Falls Mayor Jack Murray. “I think both communities can be proud of how they worked together for this.”
“It was an excellent day-and-a-half,” agreed Fort Frances Mayor Glenn Witherspoon. “International Falls put a lot of effort into it.
“The networking was good and their system of streamlining economic development into a separate part of it worked well,” he added.
The conference not only featured speakers, events, and a trade expo but a chance for corporations and organizations to exchange ideas, expertise, and to advertise their business or services.
Geoff Gillon, economic development officer for the Rainy River Future Development Corp. here, said many U.S. communities aren’t aware of how much the Borderland area has to offer.
“I’m still amazed at how much they don’t know about us. The U.S. economy has been booming, they have a shortage of employees, but they still don’t look at outsourcing the work,” said Gillon.
“We can explain what we can do so they take advantage of what we have to offer,” he added.
Mayor Witherspoon said he stressed the area’s technological improvements, which currently are being installed by Bell, to our U.S. counterparts.
“All in all, it was very worthwhile,” he said.
Next year’s Northern Networks Trade Conference will be hosted by Green Bay, Wis., the most populated location yet, and a number of local delegates plan to attend.
“It’s always helpful to introduce people to communities in the area,” said Bob Anderson, Public Affairs manager for Boise Cascade in the Falls.