By: Chelsea Peet, Senior Economic Officer, San Francisco As someone who grew up in small town northern Ontario, the importance of relationships has always been self evident. Examples of this are everywhere – neighbours who give you a lift to work when your car isn’t running, or community members that come together to support a newly arrived family in town. Strong relationships, like rising tides, can lift all boats. Chelsea Peet, Senior Economic Officer, San Francisco I’m sure it will come as no surprise that this observation has only been reinforced during my time with the Ontario Trade and Investment Office in San Francisco, and all the more so during the COVID-19 pandemic. Our office, which covers all of the U.S. west coast, promotes the benefits of doing business with Ontario, encourages new investments and job creation in the province, and connects Ontario and U.S. based companies to support business expansion deals. As a result, we see the interconnectedness of the Ontario and U.S. partnership every day, and the numbers speak for themselves. If Ontario were a country, it would be the third largest U.S. trade partner. Our province is the number one or number two export destination for 28 U.S. states – nearly nine million American jobs depend on Canada-U.S. trade and investment, and nearly one in five jobs in Ontario depend on trade. Our relationship is incredibly rich, deep and vital to the success of our respective economies. For our team representing Ontario in California in particular, we continue to see the dividends of this growing and evolving relationship. This is particularly evident in the knowledge-based economy, including the tech sector – where Ontario has in recent years seen significant growth. We’ve got home-grown Canadian tech companies like BlackBerry and Shopify employing people in California; there are dual-headquartered companies like Faire, a retail tech company, that has big operations in Waterloo and San Francisco; and we’re regularly seeing more and more California-based companies open offices in Ontario too – Netflix, Google and Silicon Valley Bank – to name a few. Just in the past month or so, Gigamon – a software company out of Santa Clara – announced plans to open a research and development hub in Ottawa, Ontario. These investments are a testament to the ecosystem in both Ontario and California and highlight the depth of the linkages between our jurisdictions. These connections, as well as the two-way flow of goods, ideas and people will continue to be vital as we collectively recover from COVID-19. The pandemic has challenged the global community in ways unprecedented in modern times, and it is definitely a time for the global community to come together. I’m proud that this has always been the Ontario way. Our province is built on international trade, and welcoming and working collaboratively with people from around the world is in our DNA. Priding ourselves on the belief that we become stronger when we work together, while incorporating diversity into our way of life, has led to some impressive results in our province. Ontario is home to some of the best and brightest minds in the world – at 70 per cent, more people in Ontario have completed post-secondary education than anywhere else in the OECD. Not only are we growing this talent across the province – for example, graduating nearly 55,000 STEM graduates every year – but we’re also welcoming it from the global community. Friendly immigration programs like Canada’s Global Skills Strategy, is a fast-track program launched in 2017 that expedites work visas for highly skilled workers from around the world in as little as 10 business days. For this reason and so many others, Ontario is, and continues to grow as a place where companies look to invest, expand their operations, and identify new business partners. In the days and months ahead, as we continue to recover from the pandemic, our Ontario office in San Francisco is privileged to be here as a resource to U.S. and Ontario-based companies. From market intelligence to curated introductions, we look forward to supporting companies on their journey to building the lasting relationships that will ensure we all continue to thrive together.