Business contacts won’t happen overnight

Those attending last week’s “Northern Networks” trade conference are optimistic the contacts made in Wausau, Wis. could mean a new market to export products.
But it’s not something that’s going to happen overnight.
Bill Gushulak, who went on behalf of the town’s Economic Development Commission, noted there was so much to take in, those attending now had to take it home and decipher it.
That included relaying contacts with local businesses to see if anyone was interested.
But he expected calls would be exchanged between those looking to do business across the border within the next few months.
“Primarily, I was there looking for opportunities for the area. You plant a seed with them and then you wait for them to come back to you,” Gushulak said yesterday.
“Some of it has to be nurtured a bit.”
“I made a couple good contacts,” noted local businessman Mark Faragher, adding he’s got people interested in the outback hot tubs as well as rescue sleighs manufactured at Nova Body Works here.
Faragher, who attended his “Northern Networks” conference when it was held last year, felt travelling into the States and making contacts helped to open the lines of communication.
“Down there, there’s more people receptive to having different products brought in,” he said, stressing face-to-face contact played a key role. “They have to feel comfortable dealing with you, first of all.”
Geoff Gillon, with the Rainy River Future Development Corp. here, felt all who went had an opportunity to speak with someone interested in seeing their products.
“[But] a lot of it’s education,” he added, stressing people also learned the ins and outs of moving goods across the border.
He noted they’d also overcome the first hurdle in having the German bus tour–an idea that arose out of last September’s conference–come here next year, with a German tour operator now on board to market the trip on the other side of the Atlantic.
Two bus tours are slated (one in August and one in September), with each requiring 15 paid passengers before it will come through.
Meanwhile, the trip was in industrial park eye-opener for Fort Frances Mayor Glenn Witherspoon, who said he learned what industrial lots should look like and how far the town had to go to bring theirs up to snuff.
But he also was encouraged by the increasing number of business people attending, with this year’s event split about 60-40 between the bureaucrats and entrepreneurs (last year’s saw an 80-20 split).
Next year, they were predicting a 20-80 split when Thunder Bay hosted the annual conference, the mayor added.