BURLINGTON, Vermont — Vermont needs to do more to attract Canadian businesses to the state when they are looking to set up operations in the United States, business and political leaders said Wednesday.
"We have a real opportunity to increase jobs in Vermont from Canadian companies who need to be headquartered in the United States for one reason or another, and we should be more aggressive about it," Gov. Peter Shumlin said before a meeting in Burlington with representatives of 23 Quebec businesses and the provincial and federal governments.
Quebec is Vermont's largest international trading partner, and there are a number of Canada-based businesses with operations in Vermont. Shumlin said that in recent years the state has backed off earlier efforts to attract businesses from its neighbor.
As part of a broader effort to reverse that trend, lawmakers recently appropriated $100,000 to help foster the Vermont-Quebec connection, including hiring someone to spearhead the effort.
The event Wednesday was part of the Vermont-Quebec Enterprise Initiative, an effort of the Agency of Commerce and Community Development and the Lake Champlain Regional Chamber of Commerce and its partner, the Greater Burlington Industrial Corporation.
Tom Torti, the president of the Lake Champlain chamber, said federal law in the U.S. provides incentives to Canadian companies to set up in the United States.
"So when they think about that, we want them to think about Vermont as the location of choice," Torti said.
"Every part of Vermont has a sell that if we can package and put it together, we can actually, I think, move the needle and continue the phenomenal success we've had with Canadian and Quebec companies."