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Spring is a time for growth and re-invention and that’s exactly what we’re doing at Dawson Strategic. Starting in June, Jeff Phillips will take over operational management of Dawson Strategic as I begin a new role as Director of the Canada Institute at the Woodrow Wilson Center in Washington, D.C.  I am excited at this new opportunity to promote knowledge and awareness of U.S.-Canada relations and I will continue to play an active role in Dawson Strategic as Emeritus Advisor, providing research and advice to a select group of clients.

I am delighted that Managing Director Jeff Phillips has agreed to continue growing and running our Ottawa operations. Our business model has evolved since the early days. With our diverse team of partners and experts in subjects ranging from quantitative analysis to media communications, we have a broad range of service offerings linked together by a commitment to excellence.

Given the strong cross-border focus to our research and advocacy work and my new vantage point in DC, this new model strengthens the company. Our mission stays the same: to deliver exceptional advocacy-oriented policy research and strategy to our clients.

The Canada Institute at the Woodrow Wilson Center is located mid-way between the White House and the Capitol on Pennsylvania Avenue.  I look forward to welcoming you any time you are in DC.

Best wishes,

Laura Dawson


Here to stay: The Emergence of Economic Sub-Regions 

Justin Bedi is a master of international trade candidate at the University of Saskatchewan’s Johnson-Shoyama Graduate School of Public Policy

Economic sub-regions, typically defined as a geographic grouping of sub-national provinces and states, are quickly emerging as important global actors. Vast and complex, many of these areas have the presence of innovative, region-specific organizations working to help governments mold these areas into collaborative economic units. For example, in Asia, the Greater Mekong Sub-region (GMS) is headed by the Asian Development Bank (ADB), and in North America, the Pacific Northwest Region is led by the Pacific Northwest Economic Region (PNWER), and the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence Region (GLR) is championed by the Council of the Great Lakes Region (CGLR). As emerging economic powerhouses, each of these regions, as well as their relevant organizations, deserve a closer look.

In Asia, the GMS is a project managed by the ADB as well as the nations comprising the region, which include Burma, Cambodia, the Yunnan Province and Guangxi Zhuang Region of China, Laos, Thailand and Vietnam. Frequent and sustained investment in the region by the involved parties has led to improved transportation and infrastructure in the region, and subsequently to increased trade and economic collaboration, among other positive outcomes. Bolstering the prospects of the GMS is the fact that the region’s countries are some of the fastest-growing economies in the world: according to the ADB and GMS, in 2012 the GMS’s GDP reached approximately USD$ 97 billion.

In North America, PNWER is a group of 10 provinces, states, and territories in Canada and the United States centered on the Pacific Northwest of the continent. Recognizing the distinct cultural and economic potential of the region, the PNWER organization was established in 1991 and since then this public-private initiative has created a distinct regional identity through extensive collaboration, communication, and information sharing. Together, they’ve taken on several projects, among them a Workforce Development project and the Border Coordination Council.

The GLR is composed of eight U.S. states and two central Canadian provinces. The region, if it were independent, would be the fourth-largest economy in the world and would rank amongst the largest countries by population.  According to a Bank of Montreal Special Report, in 2013 the population of the region was approximately 99 million, and in 2012 its economic output was USD $4.9 trillion.

In 2013, CGLR was established with the support of government, the private sector, the non-profit community, and academia to work with relevant stakeholders on the key economic, social, and environmental issues facing the region. A few of these issues include workforce development, energy, infrastructure modernization, regulatory harmonization, and climate change.

Essentially, what the GLR and other regions like it offer the global economy is a new mode of growth and collaboration. Similar to how international trade produces gains that could not otherwise be achieved individually, sub-regional collaboration creates benefits for the parties involved that could likely not be attained as an individual province, state, or even country.

What are these benefits? Greater levels of information sharing, joint science, improved trade and mobility, collective responses to today’s environmental challenges, mutually supporting laws, regulations, and policies, and increased investment in shared infrastructure priorities, among many other benefits. In short, sub-regional collaboration leads to stronger relationships across borders, deeper stakeholder engagement, and a more unified voice on issues that require area-specific insights and actions.

Regions stand to benefit from a goals-based organization with broad representation and a mandate to address regionally specific issues. This is where CGLR is playing a critical role. Groups like CGLR end up representing more than the sum of their parts: they create an entirely new model of engagement that will allow the region to compete in a global economy and that recognizes trade is not a matter of nation-to-nation business.

Ultimately, CGLR and groups like it can drive engagement with regional stakeholders and help prepare the region to more ably compete on a global level. Given their enormous potential, economic sub-regions present a golden opportunity—one that the relevant organizations and stakeholders must capitalize on.


Work Truck Show 2015 

Entering the main room of the Indianapolis Convention Center, filled with 1,500 members of the NTEA – The Association for the Work Truck Industry (or NTEA) and eating breakfast to the sounds of the orchestra warming up, I knew the 2015 Work Truck Show (WTS15) was going to be a big deal.  Spending the day clambering through the massive convention floor filled with shiny new snow ploughs and a life sized Tonka truck, my suspicions were confirmed.

With a record breaking 11,005 attendees from across the United States, Canada, and 23 other countries, it is fair to say the NTEA owned Indianapolis for a few days!  Despite the huge numbers, WTS15 ran like a well oiled…well, work truck.
This unique event provided a platform for members to learn about the latest industry trends, connect and share common issues, and see the latest products, such as the unveiling of the Ford F-750 Tonka dump truck.

The NTEA represents companies big and small, who fall mainly into three categories: OEMs, distributor/ up-fitters and body/equipment manufacturers. During his remarks at the President’s Breakfast, outgoing NTEA President Mark Woody recognized the accomplishments of the Association over the past year, as well as new projects ahead.  Mr. Woody highlighted the NTEA’s efforts to build a unified North American voice for the work truck industry by establishing an Ottawa office to advance member interests in Canada.

Laura Dawson and I delivered a talk entitled “Making the Border Work for Work Trucks” where we outlined some key developments in energy, mining, and highway infrastructure as well as border developments, the RCC, and trade agreements.  The questions that came after the session provided us with insight into the challenges SMEs face doing business across the border.

The calendar is already marked for WTS16 next year and we encourage all members, in North America and beyond, to attend this extraordinary event.  Congratulations to the NTEA for a successful event and to new NTEA President Jeff Messer, President of Messer Truck Equipment.  The Work Truck Show proved that the NTEA was already well versed in the mantra of former NFL Coach Tony Dungy, keynote speaker at the event, who noted that “champions do ordinary things better than anyone else”.