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Here is why Canadian companies keep expanding to Erie County, investing millions

Posted at 6:47 PM, Sep 27, 2018
and last updated 2018-09-27 18:47:41-04

Forty-five Canadian companies have expanded to Erie County since 2012. Those companies have added 1,030 jobs to the Western New York economy and $146,344,405 in new investment. The last fiscal year has seen seven companies come to the region.

So, what makes WNY and Erie County a hot destination for growing Canadian companies?

One big reason is location.

"It's culturally similar," explained Carolyn Powell. She is the director of international business development for Invest Buffalo Niagara. "The workforce is very similar on this side to make that transition easier for them."

Not to mention, Buffalo and WNY offer a relatively close option to Canadian companies looking to expand in the country.

Invest Buffalo Niagara is a nonprofit economic development group. Since 2012, it has made a concerted effort to recruit Canadian businesses to the region.

"Helping them understand what's involved [in expanding to the U.S.] and, really, our job is to make that road smoother for them and make that decision making an easier process," Powell said.

That support is another reason many companies have come to call Buffalo home. Another, is access to the American marketplace.

"There seems to be a lot of opportunity here as far as growth," explained managing partner of SWS Warning Lights Inc., Tom Chopp. "It's just a natural move for us in our backyard."

Chopp's company is based in nearby Niagara Falls, Ontario. But, having a site on Kenmore Avenue in Buffalo allows SWS Warning Lights to manufacture products in the United States. According to Chopp, that can make a big difference when selling to American customers.

"We're now working on the U.S., the largest market in the world and we want to have American-built products," he said.

SWS Warning Lights is one of the latest success stories for Invest Buffalo Niagara. The company makes flashing lights for plow trucks and other vehicles, as well as a variety of other products. It opened its new warehouse in January.

"It makes so much sense for us to be strategically close to each other business wise, because we are strategically close to each other geographic-wise," Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz said.

Erie County supports the initiative and works with Invest Buffalo Niagara to entice more Canadian companies to add locations in WNY. The Erie County-funded partnership began in 2015.

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