Photo Credit: Nick Brancaccio/The Windsor Star
Aug 30, 2015 – 6:19 PM EDT
The University of Windsor is offering a certificate program designed to steer local professionals and students through the murky waters of international trade.
The process of getting goods across the border is more than showing a passport and declaring whether there are weapons, tobacco or large amounts of cash on hand, said Bill Anderson, the director of the Cross-Border Institute at the University of Windsor. Companies often have to work through a maze of regulations and paperwork in order to ship to the United States and can find the task intimidating.
Anderson said the Border Management and International Trade Certificate will enable students how to work through those challenges and pass that knowledge on to local businesses.
“Obviously, if you’re talking to someone from (a company like) Chrysler, they have experts in getting goods across the border,” Anderson said. “Smaller firms don’t have that expertise on hand, so they run into a lot of problems.”
In order to attract working professionals, the course is being offered in a traditional classroom setting on weekends or through the Internet. It takes one month to get through each of the eight modules, Anderson said.
“We’re trying to appeal to the people who are out there already and would like to become the person in their organization who knows about the border,” he said.
Alicia Pomeroy is one of those young professionals enrolled in the certificate program this fall.
Pomeroy graduated from the University of Windsor in 2009, earning her chartered accountant designation in 2013. She’s currently working in the accounts payable department at the university though she has an eye on one day branching out.
“I’m taking the courses for my future,” Pomeroy said. “With globalization, opportunities for international trade are only going to increase.”
She enrolled in the class last January and is more than halfway through to her designation as a Certified International Trade Professional with a federally sanctioned professional organization called the Forum for International Trade Training.
“I’m enjoying the program, it’s a lot different than any of the undergraduate programs I took in business,” Pomeroy said. “The courses are interactive and are based on class discussion. You still get the foundational knowledge, but a lot of learning comes from discussion.”
Pomeroy said the program mixes practical skills about proper procedures with theoretical talks on issues related to moving goods across the border.
“It’s not just about studying for an exam,” she said. “You’re retaining the knowledge and applying it to your daily life without realizing you’ve technically learned something.”
As students leave the program, they’ll be able to help businesses tap into the multibillion-dollar trade that’s already crossing the border, Anderson said.
Ontario exports into Michigan alone were valued at $45 billion and represented 27 per cent of the province’s $166 billion in total exports to the U.S in 2014, Statistics Canada reported.
Knowing how to get goods across the border can only benefit small and medium-sized business, said Matt Marchand, president and CEO of the Windsor-Essex Regional Chamber of Commerce.
“We are a trading area,” Marchand said. “Windsor-Essex is one of the most important trading areas in North America. This program is a great opportunity to expand on this as we go forward.”
Anderson said infrastructure like the Herb Gray Parkway and the proposed Gordie Howe International Bridge will only further the border’s importance to the region.
“Businesses in Windsor and Essex County have to be prepared to move goods and people across the border,” he said. “We’re remote when it comes to Ontario, but very well placed to go after big markets in the Great Lakes states. We need to use the border and not let it be an impediment.”