Gov. Bill Ritter started the first day of his Canadian trade mission with a 7:30 a.m. Eastern time orientation. It continued with a tour of Toronto's MaRS business incubator, meetings with bioscience companies and a visit with the Minister of Innovation and Research of the province of Ontario.Ritter called home to chat with Colorado reporters at midday. Here are some selected thoughts:
On the Colorado message he's delivering to Canadian bioscience businesses thinking about locating an office here:
First, it's about the intellectual capital, the work force having the second- highest number of college graduates per capita. Second, the work going on at the research universities - CSU, the University of Colorado, the CU Health Sciences Center, the Colorado School of Mines. Third, there is a private-sector presence we believe we can build on. Finally, the Fitzsimons campus and the location of the University of Colorado Health Sciences Center, with the Children's Hospital and the veterans' hospital and what Forest City is doing to build out that campus. It's all part of our ability to take this to the next level.
On the minister of innovation and research, and whether he'll come back to Colorado and propose a similar Cabinet-level position:
The premier, he was the first minister, and he was the first to make the case this mattered to him. The individual we met with was the first one to hold the position after the premier did. I think it's the right way to think about 21st century industries, to build on not just the biosciences but all 21st century industries. . . . Ontario has now passed Michigan as the largest manufacturer of automobiles, and they're very much considering what will take them to the next level.
Aside from calling (head economic developer) Don Elliman minister? No. In Colorado, you need a constitutional change for a new department. We have set up an innovation council as part of our office of Economic Development and International Trade.
On whether he's pitching Canadians on the weak American dollar, which has dropped about 15 percent vs. the loonie since August:
They understand our vulnerability, if you will. In our presentation (Tuesday) morning, they talked about how the tourism industry in the U.S. can benefit, and we in Colorado can benefit. Canadians are coming to the U.S. for vacations. We're not pitching it, because we don't have to. They know.