UB to take part in binational conference on economic development

Satellite image of the U.S.-Canada border along the Niagara River and Niagara Falls.

A binational workshop convened with the support of the School of Architecture and Planning's Kathryn Bryk Friedman will address collaboration in economic development across the U.S.-Canada border.

Published May 14, 2019

The University at Buffalo is part of a consortium of public and nonprofit organizations that will convene stakeholders from across the U.S.-Canada border this week to discuss binational collaboration in economic development.

The daylong workshop “Canada-U.S. Cross-Border Innovation Corridors: Cascadia and the Great Lakes Region” will take place at Niagara College, Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario, on Thursday, May 16, 2019, 11 am – 6 pm.

Representing three key regions along the U.S-Canadian border – Detroit-Windsor, Buffalo-Niagara-Hamilton-Toronto, and the Cascadia Innovation Corridor linking Seattle, Portland, Ore., and Vancouver, British Columbia – participants will share best practices in binationally-driven economic innovation. Also to be considered are policy recommendations at the local, state/provincial and federal levels.

Reflecting the complexity of the cross-sectoral conversation, the list of sponsors for the event is diverse. Along with UB and Brock University they are: U.S. Mission to Canada; the Consulate General of Canada in New York; The John R. Oishei Foundation; the Council of the Great Lakes Region; the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada; the Peace Bridge Authority; the Niagara Falls Bridge Commission; Can Am BTA; the University of Toronto; and the University at Buffalo.

Our own binational region and those across the U.S-Canada border have seen varying degrees of success in fostering economic collaboration. This dialogue brings together three of the border’s largest corridors to learn from one another and strengthen our network.

- Kathryn B. Friedman, research professor in UB’s School of Architecture and Planning 

“The United States and Canada share a commitment to leveraging technology and innovation for economic growth and shared prosperity for our workers, families, and communities,” said Consul General Greg Stanford, U.S. Consulate General Toronto. “Supporting events like this week's dialogue is a core focus of our strategy as a U.S. Consulate and Mission across Canada to foster cross-border innovation and identify actionable next steps to move these binational conversations forward. The event will ultimately help the United States and Canada further our cooperation, particularly in the areas of innovation, research, and academic opportunities.”

Canadian leadership is similarly optimistic about the collaborative possibilities; “Innovation is a priority on both sides of the border—it will drive the next generation of jobs and fundamentally change the way we live our lives," said Canadian Deputy Consul General Khawar Nasim agreed. "This dialogue is an important platform to showcase the strength of Canada-US innovation collaboration, which is driven by our proximity and the complementarity of our economies. Together, we are turning world-leading research into real-world solutions.”

The event is part of the Binational Prosperity Initiative led by Kathryn B. Friedman, a research professor in UB’s School of Architecture and Planning and an expert in cross-border law and policy, in partnership with the Niagara Community Observatory at Brock University.

“Our own binational region and those across the U.S-Canada border have seen varying degrees of success in fostering economic collaboration,” says Friedman. “This dialogue brings together three of the border’s largest corridors to learn from one another and strengthen our network. We also see this as an opportunity to inform broader U.S.-Canada policy discussions on innovation and economic growth and partnership possibilities.”

Now in its third year, the research initiative is designed to build policy and data insights and reinforce strategic partnerships for innovation corridors across the binational border. Its sponsors include the Oishei Foundation and Ontario Trillium Foundation, as well as the Niagara Community Foundation, Niagara Region, Niagara Falls Bridge Commission, Peace Bridge Authority, Consulate General of Canada in New York, and the Social Sciences Humanities Research Council in Canada.  

Initial research by UB and Brock University over the past three years has focused on the Golden Horseshoe region linking the Buffalo-Niagara region with the booming greater Toronto area. The work revealed untapped potential in collaborative economic development.

Among their findings is the potential for an additional 1,300 jobs in the life sciences sector alone and an additional $122 million in economic output in that sector through new alignment in economic development policy. Recommendations moving forward focus on the creation of innovation districts around complementary assets and talent in key sectors; and reinforcing networks of human and organizational capital and the alignment of regulatory infrastructure.

Among the featured experts at Thursday’s event are Matthew Rooney, managing director of the Bush Institute-SMU Economic Growth Initiative, George. W. Bush Institute; Kevin Kerrigan, senior vice president, Automotive Office, and senior automotive advisory, State of Michigan; Dane Stangler, senior advisor, Global Entrepreneurship Network, and president and chief policy officer, Startup Genome; and Hana Doubrava, corporate affairs director, Microsoft.