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Kicking Off Minnesota's Business Development Mission to Canada

Hello from Canada, where DEED's Minnesota Trade Office recently kicked off a Business Development Mission with Governor Tim Walz.

This trip provides an opportunity to have many high-level business-to-business and government-to-government meetings between Minnesota and Canada – our largest trading partner – in a short period of time. During this three-day trip, our delegation will attend two major economic development and diplomatic gatherings: the U.S.-Canada Summit in Toronto and the Conference of Montreal in Quebec.

Members of this mission delegation include Destination Medical Center, Medical Alley and Greater MSP – all of whom have been working hard alongside DEED's Minnesota Trade Office and our Business Development team to deepen our already close ties with Canada.

Canada is Minnesota's largest trading partner and foreign direct investor. In addition to this economic relationship, Minnesota and Canada have close cultural, educational and governmental relationships. To put it another way, we share a border, a love of hockey, and a commitment to democratic values, among other important characteristics! On this trip, we're not only highlighting and growing our trade ties, but also reaffirming our friendly relationship with our neighbors to the north.

Here are some highlights from the beginning of our trip in Toronto:

We began the day meeting with Greenfield Global, an agricultural foreign direct investment (FDI) partner whose ethanol production utilizes Minnesota corn. The company shared successes from its investments in Minnesota, provided updates on fostering innovation in biofuel production, and shared excitement around contributing to Minnesota's leadership in the renewable energy sector. We thanked Greenfield Global for their FDI support in Minnesota and invited further investment in Minnesota's ethanol sector.

Next on the agenda was a luncheon promoting in-bound FDI. Canada is Minnesota's largest trading partner and foreign direct investor. Much of our trade with Canada is in intermediate goods – illustrating the close coordination between business in Minnesota and Canada. Total trade in goods between Minnesota and Canada was valued at $21 billion in 2023. More than 60 Canadian companies operate at about 450 business locations in Minnesota, employing 28,400 Minnesotans and investing $13.2 billion in plant, property and equipment. Canada has the highest investment level and employment level in Minnesota of any country.

At our luncheon, Gov. Walz, Minnesota Department of Agriculture Commissioner Thom Petersen, and I joined our delegation partners in describing some of Minnesota's economic strengths to further invite complementary collaboration with Canadian companies and investors. As I shared with the audience, I felt right at home when a participant in one of our first meetings used the phrase "skating to where the puck is headed...!"

Next was a visit that put a spotlight on provinces and states with Governor Walz and Premier Doug Ford. The multidimensional nature of the U.S.-Canada relationship plays out across dozens of states and provinces, cities and towns stretched across seven time zones every day. With 119 border crossings and countless airports and harbors spanning the world's longest international border, there was a great deal to cover in this fireside chat.

We then met with Her Excellency Kirsten Hillman, Ambassador of Canada to the U.S. She addressed the opportunities and challenges of U.S.-Canada relations today. Our countries have always found a way to bridge our differences and celebrate our similarities. Ambassador Hillman shared that she frequently visited Minnesota as she grew up in Winnipeg – and even came down for a Prince concert!

After those meetings we connected with His Excellency David L. Cohen, Ambassador of the U.S. in Canada. We discussed how deepening our state's ties with our northern neighbors will help both Minnesota and Canada drive economic growth and create jobs. We were also joined by Consul General Beth Richardson, Canada's Consul General in the Upper Midwest and a strong ally in expanding and deepening the relationship between Canada and Minnesota.

Finally, we attended the U.S.-Canada Summit dinner with the EURASIA Group, which included a fireside chat with Minister Francois Philippe Champagne and US Senator Chris Coons. The evening focused on trade, tech innovation, science and industry, with a goal of helping senior decision-makers better understand how to navigate the nuances of the U.S.-Canada relationship.

This trip is a chance to make our pitch for more business investment in Minnesota. As the post-pandemic economic recovery continues, growing our most mutually-beneficial trade relationship with Canada bolsters Minnesota's ongoing economic growth and innovative advantage.

It's an honor to join Governor Walz and other leaders to promote Minnesota as a destination for trade and business investment. I look forward to providing more updates on our efforts later in the week.


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