Border Counties Deliver Advantages to Canadians

By Kathleen Freimond

A convenient location between Vancouver and Seattle, good telecommunications networks and access to the talent pool from the Western Washington University are the drawcards the Bellingham Whatcom Economic Development Council is using to attract Canadian businesses to the region.

"The main advantage for Canadian companies locating here is that it give them the opportunity to move across the border and do business in the U.S., yet still be in the metropolitan area of Vancouver," said BWEDC president Fred Sexton.

John Oliver, co-founder of Pacific Screen Print in Richmond, recognized that opportunity and bought Impression One Graphics Inc. in Woodinville as a way to expand his business to the U.S. market. "The market is much larger and there are many growth opportunities there," he said.

"However, doing business in the U.S. means you have to learn new rules and we continue to do that. There are various issues, such as the employee benefit tax, which require specialist knowledge," said Oliver.

He has hired a U.S. accountant and Bellingham lawyer Gene Moses to guide the company through the red tape.

Moses said most Canadian business-people incorporate a wholly owned subsidiary in the U.S. to take advantage of access to the vast American market.

"Consumers in the United States are not fearful of products and services generated in the Canadian market. They are, however, concerned about product delivery, warranty issues, service and technical support. For these reasons, a presence in the U.S. is a definite selling tool," said Moses.

From Business in Vancouver, July 14-20, 1998