The days of Canadian snowbirds

by francine Hardaway on September 9, 2004

The days of Canadian snowbirds and real estate investors are behind us. I can remember
when the real estate investors descended on Arizona in the �80s; I had a wonderful
madman, Barry Kaplan, as a client. Barry owned innumerable acres of farmland around
91st Avenue and Bell Road. With the optimism characteristic of Canadians, he refused to
think it was premature to develop on the west side. This was twenty years ago.

With amazing prescience, he formed a homebuilding company to build his way out of his
problem, which consisted of too much land, too little cash flow. To lure people out to see
his model homes, we had a contest for volunteers to live in a tree house for thirty days on
behalf of a charity. We charged people to come see the tree-hugger. We raised a bunch of
money for the charity and drew crowds, and we had a lot of fun doing it. It was probably
the highlight of my PR career.

Everyone in Phoenix laughed at the Canadians, who supposedly bought the land no one
else would buy. But savvy investors like Paul Hill and Dennis Knight have capitalized on
Arizona�s growth, and enjoyed their winters here, for twenty-five years.

But it has always been about more than winter visitors and land deals. Canada is America�s
largest trading partner, and the Canada- Arizona relationship exists in virtually every
segment of our economy. We just take our neighbor to the north for granted.

I�m in the middle of the research for an article on Canada-Arizona trade for a future issue
of the America West magazine. (Some of my best friends are Canadian, my daughter works
for a Quebec-based software company and has paired up with a French Canadian, so I�m
the perfect writer for this. Completely biased.)

Canada and the US move approximately $1.8 billion worth of goods and services across
the border each day. Between 1993 and 2003, two-way trade in goods increased
approximately 7.2% compounded annually. In 2003, Canada exported $328 billion in
goods to the United States and imported $203 billion in return.
Fully 86% of Canadian merchandise exports are destined for the United States. Services
exported to the United States totalled $33.4 billion in 2003, with corresponding imports of
$40.7 billion. Since the implementation of the Free Trade Agreement (FTA) in 1989, two-
way trade has more than doubled.
And of course, thousands of Arizonans are buying their prescription drugs in Canada. I�m
not sure whether this is classified as exporting or importing, because the same pills are
going both ways � made in America, shipped to Canada, and shipped back to Arizonans.
But I digress.
Arizona already has a big piece of the trade pie, and is destined year to have an even
bigger piece with the opening of the Canadian Consulate (March 2004) and the launch of
the formal Canada-Arizona Business Council earlier this year.
At least thirty-eight Arizona-owned or operated companies do business in Canada,
including such diverse industry representatives as Avnet, Alled Waste, Best Western, JDA,
Microchip, Honeywell, Motorola, PetsMart, Pratt & Whitney, Swift Transportation, U-Haul
and Zila.
Likewise, many Canadian companies operate in Arizona.
BioteQ Environmental Technologies Inc. (TSX-V:BQE) is part of Copreco LLC, a joint
venture with Phelps Dodge to build and operate a copper recovery plant. The plant,
commissioned last August, is processing all Phelps Dodge�s leach solution. Focused on the
mining industry, BioteQ partners with global metal producers like Phelps Dodge to design,
build and operate water treatment plants. BioteQ’s process recovers saleable metals,
generating income for the plant owner and meeting stricter environmental regulations.

And the four-member ownership group of the Diamondbacks that bought out Jerry
Colangelo’s general partnership for an undisclosed sum in March includes Valley
businessmen Ken Kendrick, Dale Jensen, Mike Chipman and Toronto businessman J.C.

On a less grandiose level, a small Phoenix company named Waves in Motion, co-founded
by a French Canadian, is one of the most well-known and respected application
developers for FileMaker, the database of choice for small businesses and schools. A second formerly Canadian software company, Loadbook, is headquartered in Tucson. And
Nest Ventures, a local investment bank with an office in Montreal, is run by Glenn
Williamson, former CEO of Wavo and Canadian unofficial ambassador.

Once you are forced to examine the impact of Canada on Arizona, and vice versa, it�s
difficult to ignore. That�s probably why I�m forcing you � if you�re still reading � to
examine it. If the Canadians weren�t so nice, if they caused us more trouble and stirred up
more political controversy, we�d probably know a lot more about them.

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