Canadian and Local Officials Meet in Orono for Conference 

As a small state bordered by a large opportunity, Maine’s spot on the map has put it at the center of international trade, as well as the focus of the conversation at the University of Maine in Orono.”Geography has given us a fair shake in this instance,” said John Butera, the senior economic advisor for the LePage administration. “I think it’s critical that we continue to build and forge the relationships we have with Canada,” said Butera.He is one of about a hundred people participating in a two day conference focusing on Canada’s partnership with the northeast region of the U.S. “It’s clearly our number one export and import market. I mean, over half of our imports are from Canada, and nearly over a third of our exports go to Canada.”Geared towards enhancing the economic relationship between the two, the conference is aimed at bringing the brains from both sides of the border together under one roof.”I felt it was time to have a meeting to bring together the academics, the business people and government officials, and see where we are with the economic connection across the border in the northeast,” said Stephen Hornsby, director of the Canadian-American Center.Among the topics up for discussion, the proposal to build an east-west highway through the state.”We see the movement of product and people and goods and services across our state to connect to Quebec with Atlantic Canada critical,” said Butera.The event will wrap up at lunch Tuesday, but the hope is that the conversations continue long after.