Mission and Founding
MAPLE Business Council® (MAPLE®) is a California non-profit organization that promotes bilateral investment, trade, and entrepreneurship between Southern California and Canada. The executive-level community works across sectors to be a cross-border networking focal point for business leaders, entrepreneurs, investors, service providers, and organizations dedicated to regional economic development.
MAPLE® was founded at the encouragement of the Consulate General of Canada in Los Angeles who had seen its principal co-founders, Robert Kelle and Stephen Armstrong, together with other Canadian expat executives, launch and grow a vibrant Canadian expat network, Canadians in Orange County, since 2009.
Scope of Work
MAPLE® Business Council supports bilateral economic ties with Canada throughout Southern California with a primary focus on Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside and San Diego Counties. The Council hosts frequent networking receptions across Southern California as an opportunity for Southern California businesses to learn about opportunities to trade and invest with Canada and for Canadian members to connect with Southern California businesses. Meetings feature presentations from organization members who discuss their business mission and share market insights. MAPLE® also invites regional economic development leaders to speak and has hosted Stephen Cheung, President of World Trade Center Los Angeles; the L.A. Mayor’s Office; Greater Irvine Chamber; Riverside Office of Foreign Trade; World Trade Center San Diego; and the San Diego Mayor’s Office, among others.
In addition to hosting its own events throughout the year, MAPLE® co-hosts and sponsors celebrations of world trade and meetings focused on Canada-Southern California economic ties. These have included NAFTA panel discussions, selling to the Canadian federal government, understanding Canadian tax incentives, and raising public venture capital on the Toronto stock exchanges. To date, MAPLE® has hosted over 70 events in four and a half years.
Canadian Market Engagement
Canadian member organizations play a significant role in the MAPLE® Canada-Southern California community. Prominent Canadian brands include Air Canada, Avison Young, BDC (Business Development Bank of Canada), Brookfield, Canadian Olympic Foundation, Fasken, Purolator International, QA Consultants, Teknion, and TMX Group (TSX and TSX Venture Exchanges). Canadian members travel to attend and speak at MAPLE® events across Southern California.
MAPLE® connects Los Angeles and Southern California to Canadian markets on a regular basis. The Council has brought Southern California business and economic development leaders for delegations to Vancouver and Toronto. These delegations provide an overview of the Canadian market across key sectors informing the delegates on opportunities for collaboration. A two-day delegation to Toronto included a day touring leading centers of innovation in digital media, biotech, life sciences and rehabilitation medicine.
In February 2019, MAPLE® led a city-wide delegation from Long Beach with representatives from the Port of Long Beach, the City’s Economic Development office, California State University Long Beach, District 1 Councilwoman Lena Gonzalez (now a state senator), and representatives of commercial real estate, to Vancouver. Structured as a reverse-delegation to promote Long Beach as an attractive innovation community to Vancouver-area tech start-ups, MAPLE® hosted a reception for the delegation and Vancouver business leaders at the home of U.S. Consul General Katherine Dhanani and facilitated a presentation at the SelectUSA InvesTech conference. This resulted in a CEO of a Vancouver start-up making a market visit to Long Beach to attend the 2019 Long Beach Regional Economic Forum.
MAPLE® also hosts receptions in Canadian markets to showcase Los Angeles and Southern California markets. These events draw business leaders across sectors to learn about the economic momentum and opportunities for trade and investment. As events that promote Southern California are highly differentiated from other networking programs in Canada, these events are typically very strongly subscribed. MAPLE® has hosted Stephen Cheung and Michael Smith of World Trade Center Los Angeles, and Linda DiMario, SVP of Greater Irvine Chamber, among other guest speakers.
In September 2019, MAPLE® hosted the Canadian Olympic Foundation CEO, Paul McIntyre Royston, for a discussion on the Foundation’s fundraising plans in celebration of the 10th anniversary of the 2010 Vancouver Winter Games. Paul spoke to the Foundation’s interest in connecting the Vancouver and Los Angeles Olympic communities for best practice sharing as LA gears up for the 2028 Summer Games. Our event was held at the BC Sports Hall of Fame and drew over 100 registrations.
Southern California International Community
As a contributor to the Southern California international economic community, MAPLE® has signed MOUs with World Trade Center Los Angeles and the City of Long Beach to be their Canadian market partner. In addition, in November 2018, MAPLE® and World Trade Center Vancouver signed a MOU to support greater collaboration between our markets. MAPLE® is also honored to have the Province of New Brunswick as a member of its community through its foreign direct investment attraction office, Opportunities NB (New Brunswick).
In 2016, MAPLE® hosted an evening dinner reception for New Brunswick at Canada’s Official Residence in Los Angeles attended by over 100 Los Angeles area business leaders. Since this time, New Brunswick has returned to Southern California to present their work in the fields of cybersecurity and their smart grid technology partnership with Siemens. MAPLE® and its founders are proud to be members of the LA Area Chamber of Commerce and the Greater Irvine Chamber of Commerce.
In November 2019, the Province of Ontario became the newest government member of MAPLE® represented by the Ontario Trade & Investment Office located in San Francisco.
The MAPLE® Business Council Organization
Representing MAPLE® in Southern California is a growing team of executives who donate their time to support the Council’s mission. In addition to Robert Kelle (Chairman), and Stephen Armstrong (President & Director), are Garth Stevens, partner at Snell & Wilmer LLP; and Marko Zoretic, partner at Knobbe Martens. Advisory board members include James Villeneuve, former Consul General of Canada in Los Angeles; Arlyn Stoik, Principal at Avison Young; Michael Speer, SVP of Asset Management at Brookfield; Anna Innis, National Manager Passenger Sales USA at Air Canada; and Eric Eide, Director of Ecosystem Development at the Alliance for Southern California Innovation.
In support of cross-border economic ties, MAPLE® is grateful for the contributions of a team of Regional Directors focused on key markets. These currently include Vancouver/British Columbia (Jason Tse - Vancouver Airport Authority); Montréal/Québec (Charles Gauthier - Export Montréal Ouest –Développement économique Saint-Laurent); and San Diego (Stan Marszal, a senior business development/innovation consultant). MAPLE® seeks to add representatives for other key Southern California and Canadian markets as well.
In addition to orchestrating business connections between Southern California and Canada, MAPLE® is active in curating content on both markets. The Council publishes two monthly e-newsletters profiling the work of the Council and for organization members to share insights on their work and market. In the past year, the Council launched a video series, MAPLE® Conversations, for organization members to share cross-border topics of interest online. To date, over 24 episodes have been published. The Council also publishes and reposts content specific to Southern California and Canada and the work of its members on a daily basis through social media channels reaching a North American audience.
The Importance of MAPLE®
The importance of the work of MAPLE Business Council® is threefold. First, it provides a business networking home for discussions about cross-border investment, trade, and entrepreneurship with Canada to complement the work of the Consulate General of Canada. Second, the Council amplifies the voices of its members by providing thought-leadership platforms (speaking engagements, articles, and videos) to share their expertise to a targeted audience. Finally, the Council is an ambassador of Los Angeles and Southern California to its second largest export market, Canada, and reciprocally an ambassador of Canada in the Southern California region. In this respect, MAPLE® helps its Canadian members stay connected to Southern California remotely by sharing news and creating mechanisms for engagement throughout the year.
Southern California is uniquely positioned to attract capital investment, talent, and export customers from Canada based on the vitality and magnitude of our economy, being one of the most desired places to live in the world, our geographic proximity to Canada, and the strength of our national partnership and friendship as neighbors. Southern California offers the synergy of Canada’s consular presence in both Los Angeles and San Diego and coverage of the entire region, the work of a business networking organization in MAPLE Business Council®, the energy of three active Canadian social networks, and an engaged and large Canadian diaspora. Together, they represent a significant market advantage for Los Angeles and Southern California to grow an already significant and successful relationship with Canada as a key trade, investment and innovation partner and friend.