Partnerships key to marketing N.H. to Canadian businesses

The location: Toronto, Canada. The mission: Recruit new business and develop relationships with corporate real estate executives and site selection advisers, giving New Hampshire another foothold in a new market.

With that goal in mind, representatives of the New Hampshire Business Resource Center, along with members of the New Hampshire business community and state government, made the journey in April to Toronto to take part in the world’s largest gathering of corporate real estate executives and their site selection advisers. When all was said and done, the team came home with several new leads and potential new relationships, with everyone excited about a mission accomplished.

The group included Department of Resources and Economic Development Commissioner Sean O’Kane; NHBRC’s John DiNapoli, Michael Bergeron and Steve Boucher; PSNH’s vice president of customer services, Paul Ramsey, and economic and community development manager Pat McDermott; and George Bald, executive director of the Pease Development Authority.

“We were there to introduce New Hampshire to a new marketplace, as we hadn’t had a recruitment mission in Toronto before,” said O’Kane. “Our goal was to meet with businesses, let them know the advantages of doing business in New Hampshire and open up a discussion with them.”

The mission was a two-pronged effort, said DiNapoli.

“First, we took part in CoreNet Global, the world’s largest gathering of corporate real estate executives and their site selection advisers. This three-day event gave us the opportunity to meet with corporate real estate executives and commercial real estate brokers, and provide them with an overview of why they should consider New Hampshire,” he said. “Second, thanks to PSNH’s sponsorship, we were able to host a private dinner for 25 Canadian business leaders.”

Ramsey of PSNH applauded the choice of Toronto, calling it “a good choice for us, not just because of its proximity. New Hampshire is known, and compares very favorably to what’s there, especially in terms of taxes and real estate costs. Companies there are often looking for a New England presence; this type of initiative gives us a chance to show their decision-makers that New Hampshire is the best choice.”

According to Bergeron, NHBRC’s business development manager, the event generated one new lead, a manufacturer, “and I was able to follow up with a prospect who’s interested in purchasing 100,000 square feet of manufacturing space in the central or northern part of the state, from the Lakes Region north to Colebrook. We also spoke with another site consultant, who we are now working with.”

PSNH, PDA and Fulcrum Associates of Amherst, a construction management and contracting firm, helped sponsor the mission.

While CoreNet Global gave the New Hampshire group the opportunity to meet and speak with a large number of prospects, the PSNH-sponsored dinner gave the New Hampshire team the chance to speak at length with the Canadian business owners who attended.

Twenty-five high-level executives of companies in finance, computers and manufacturing attended. A PowerPoint presentation highlighted the benefits of doing business in New Hampshire. Dennis Metzler, a Deloitte & Touche LLP tax representative from Toronto, also provided an overview of important issues for Canadian companies expanding to the United States to consider, including forming subsidiaries and repatriation of profits.

Before and after dinner, there was plenty of time for attendees to meet and network with the New Hampshire delegation.

O’Kane said recruitment missions like the one to Toronto are just the first step. “We’re there to plant the seeds and introduce the state. The real work begins when the event is over. In recruiting, the first step is to develop a relationship; after that, it’s follow-up that is critical.”

According to DiNapoli, it often takes two to three years for a business to make a move, “so the more contacts we make, the better chance we have of bringing new businesses to expand to or relocate in New Hampshire.”

This article was provided by the New Hampshire Business Resource Center.

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