Attention Business/News Editors and Directors:
Export awards celebrate Ontario success in global markets

TORONTO, May 17 /CNW/ - Ontario Minister of Economic Development and Trade Bob Runciman this evening recognized the province's top small and medium- sized exporters for their outstanding achievements in job creation and international market success. The 3rd annual Ontario Global Traders Awards provincial ceremony attracted approximately 500 guests from across Ontario, including mayors, MPPs, entrepreneurs and award nominees.

Recipients of provincial awards included:
Leadership Award:
- Joseph Ouellette, President, Acrolab Ltd. (Windsor)

Innovation Award:
- Vistar Telecommunications (Ottawa)
Market Expansion Award - Service:
- the Pressure Pipe Inspection Company (Mississauga)
Market Expansion Award - Product:
- Medtronic of Canada Ltd. (Mississauga)
Partnership Award:
- Wabi Iron & Steel Corp. (New Liskeard)
- Eagle Crusher Company Inc. (Galion, Ohio)
Student Achievement Award:
- Ricardo de Lima (St. Catharines),
Studied at Niagara College of Applied Arts and Technology (Niagara-on-the-Lake)

"Three years ago, our government's lead trade agency -- Ontario Exports Inc. -- issued a challenge to Ontario exporters to recognize that there are markets for their products beyond Canada and the United States," said Runciman. "The challenge was to tap into international markets, which had been largely unexplored by Ontario companies. I am proud that they accepted this challenge and were highly successful in making significant gains world-wide."

Judges reviewed nearly 240 nominations this year. Nominees reported exports had a major impact on job creation. Collectively, the nominees said total employment in their companies jumped 23 per cent over the previous year, from some 7,000 jobs to 8,600 jobs in 1999-2000. Export sales among nominees climbed even more dramatically, from 54 per cent two years ago, to 64 per cent last year. Overall, exports generate the equivalent of more than 50 per cent of Ontario's Gross Domestic Product and sustain 1.6 million jobs in Ontario.

"These results are phenomenal," said Runciman. "They speak well for the strength of our economy, and they underline the role that exports play in creating jobs and maintaining our quality of life."

"The Bank of Montreal is very happy to be a part of these awards and to sponsor the prestigious Partnership Award," said Pam Robertson, Executive Vice President - Ontario Division. "As founding award partner with Ontario Exports Inc., our emphasis has always been to create solid partnerships with small to medium-sized businesses and then help them realize their long-term international business goals. Our award winners make it clear that Ontario companies can compete with the best in the world, and succeed," she said.

Award winners were finalists from regional competitions held in northern, central, eastern and southwestern Ontario. Judging panels represented leading business organizations and executives who reviewed nominations and chose winners.

The awards are sponsored by the Government of Ontario's lead trade agency -- Ontario Exports Inc. and Bank of Montreal, as well as their Partners in Trade: Deloitte & Touche, Canadian Commercial Corporation, Export Development Corporation, the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Ontario, United Parcel Service Canada Ltd., PROFIT, Canadian Business, Business Sense and Le Lien Economique.

Note to news and business editors: Background information on award recipients and the Ontario Global Traders Awards program is attached.

For more information, and to view a comprehensive list and photos of all regional award winners, as well as lists of previous years' winners, visit the Ontario Exports Inc. Web site:


Leadership Award

Joseph Ouellette President, Acrolab Ltd., Windsor, Ontario

Firm in his belief that the world is one market, Joseph Ouellette, President of Acrolab Ltd., was solely responsible for putting the Canadian mould-making industry on the road to international competitiveness. Acting on his belief that the mould industry could and must compete internationally, Mr. Ouellette formed the Windsor Association of Mould Makers in 1981. Members learned how to be proactive international marketers, keep abreast of technological advancements and participate in mass marketing ventures. The Windsor Association has since become the Canadian Association with over two hundred member firms. In addition to being an active public speaker, Mr. Ouellette lends his export knowledge and experience to new entrepreneurs through the Chamber of Commerce's mentoring program. He has also been instrumental in the development of St. Clair College's three-year international trade program. Acrolab provides sales and engineering services in fifteen countries.