Keep Canada's gateway to North American trade operating, says SWEA

    The Southwest Economic Alliance (SWEA) wants federal party leaders to
    explain their economic strategies for the region

    SARNIA, ON, Sept. 25 /CNW Telbec/ - How will you keep Canada's North
American trade gateway operating? That's what leaders in Southwest Ontario are
asking the people who want to be Prime Minister.
    The Southwest Economic Alliance (SWEA), representing business, industry,
universities and colleges, municipalities and government organizations in
Southwest Ontario, is asking all federal party leaders how they plan to speed
the flow of goods across the border and strengthen the region's economy.
    "Southwest Ontario is at the centre of $750 billion a year in trade with
the United States," said Dan Mathieson, Mayor of Stratford, Ont., and newly
elected Chair of SWEA. "We have 2.5 million people and almost 25 per cent of
Ontario's jobs, yet we are facing some serious challenges-the strong dollar,
the U.S. economic slowdown, and a weakening auto sector-without a coordinated
national response.
    Jim Burns, Warden of Lambton County, Ont., pointed to another major
challenge. "Our aging transport and border infrastructure is slowing
cross-border traffic, making Canadian industry less competitive," he said. "We
need federal party leaders to focus on how important this region is to Canada
and to work with us to develop a plan to speed the flow of goods and
strengthen the region's economy."
    A report prepared for SWEA by David Conklin and Guy Holburn of the Ivey
School of Business, "A Southwest Ontario Vision for Economic Competitiveness
and Cooperation: Gateway to Canada's North American Trade Corridor," examined
the challenges facing the region, including a declining auto industry,
competition from Asia, and a U.S. slowdown.
    The report proposed a number of solutions, such as improved
infrastructure links within the region and at U.S. border crossings, enhanced
highways and rail infrastructure, new intermodal facilities, and new or
enhanced border-security processes.
    "Southwest Ontario is one of Canada's economic engines, generating jobs
and facilitating trade that benefits the entire country but it is struggling,
said Mayor Anne Marie DeCicco-Best of London, Ont.. "Those who aspire to lead
the country must tell the people of Southwest Ontario and all Canadians how
they propose to keep the engine running."

For further information:

For further information: Massimo Bergamini, InterChange Public Affairs,
(613) 290-5317

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