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Cross-Border Transportation Agreement Signed

mayors sign transportation agreement
Pat Bradley/WAMC
Plattsburgh Mayor james Calnon and Longueuil Mayor Caroline St-Hilaire sign agreement as Senator Betty Little and Chamber President Garry Douglas observe

A delegation from a Montreal suburb got a look at the transportation manufacturing sector in Plattsburgh Monday and the mayors signed a mutual cooperation agreement.
The mayor and business leaders from Longueuil, Quebec traveled to Plattsburgh for the day to discuss how they can enhance the transportation clusters that have grown in both cities. After touring the Bombardier, Prevost and Nova Bus manufacturing facilities and the Plattsburgh International Airport, they discussed workforce enhancement and other cross-border opportunities.

The Plattsburgh North Country Chamber of Commerce and the City of Plattsburgh hosted Rendezvous Longueuil-Plattsburgh.  At a midday luncheon,  Plattsburgh Mayor James Calnon and Longueuil Mayor Caroline St-Hilaire signed a Declaration of Cooperation.   “I will ask that the two mayors join here at the table.”

The pact promises exchanges between the cities and identification of two Centers of Excellence for transportation technology. Chamber President and CEO Garry Douglas notes that the agreement builds on another compact signed in June to enhance cooperation in a bi-national transportation equipment cluster.   “If you were going to focus on a community in the Montreal region that probably hosts the most transportation equipment and aerospace activity, it’s Longueuil.  If we’re a shared cluster then a shared interest is workforce development, skills development, intellectual capital. So I think one of the most significant things that can and will come out of the conversations here today is in that area supporting the development of this bi-national cluster.”

Speaking mostly in French, Longueuil Mayor St-Hilaire emphasized the importance of the cross-border economies.   “Our exporters regularly do business with companies in your area.  The New York State is the top destination for Quebec exports which totaled $4.5 billion in 2014.  We plan to set up a transport technology hub for high technology industries, research centers, business and financial organizations.”

Mayor Calnon says transportation cluster businesses are already working together and it’s time for governments to support cross-border arrangements.   “Looking at the city of Longueuil, which is ten or fifteen times our size, the resources that they have in terms of the universities and private sector research that’s going on and then really linking to the rest of Quebec, it gives us a huge advantage.”

The Development Corporation President and CEO Paul Grasso believes this new partnership poses great opportunities.   “A lot of people don’t understand that the cluster is more than just a Bombardier or a Nova Bus or a Prevost. It’s about your educational system.  It’s about your workforce development system.  It’s about the supplier network and the supply chain and how all of those things feed into those primary providers of jobs. They’ve done a lot of that and we can learn from them on how to do it as we try to transform some of what’s going on here.”

The Declaration of Cooperation between Plattsburgh and Longueuil is supported by the Quebec Ground Transportation Cluster and the North Country New York Transportation Equipment Cluster.     

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