Auto industry’s future is focus of Canada-Ohio Business Dinner

One in 10 Ohioans depends on the motor vehicle industry for a livelihood. Ohio ranks third in North America, behind Ontario and Michigan, in production of light vehicles, making this region the engine that drives automotive production in North America. And, with nearly a quarter of its worldwide exports of transportation equipment bound for Canada, Ohio looks there to rev up performance of its automotive sector.

On Nov. 8, the 15th annual Canada-Ohio Business Dinner at BGSU will examine issues and trends in the global automotive industry with keynote speaker Dr. David Cole, chair of the Center for Automotive Research in Ann Arbor, Mich. His 7 p.m. talk in 228 Bowen-Thompson Student Union will address the question, “The Future Auto World: Round or Flat?”

The evening will begin with a social hour from 4:45-5:45 p.m., followed by welcoming remarks and dinner at 6:15 p.m.

Nearly 80 percent of all light vehicles sold in the U.S. are produced in North America. However, Detroit’s Big Three—General Motors, Ford and DaimlerChrysler—are losing market share to Japan’s Big Three—Toyota, Honda and Nissan. Japanese automakers have opened plants and created jobs in North America, as evidenced by a 52 percent increase in employment of U.S. workers by foreign-affiliated automotive assemblers since 1995.

Cole’s research focuses on strategic issues related to the restructuring of the North American auto industry and trends in globalization. He was formerly director of the Office for the Study of Automotive Transportation at the University of Michigan’s Transportation Research Institute. He has been involved in the start-up of five Ann Arbor-based companies, and his technical and policy consulting experience includes assignments for industry, labor and government. He holds four degrees, including a Ph.D., from the University of Michigan.

In the Center for Automotive Research, Cole chairs an organization that analyzes trends and policies related to the auto industry. The nonprofit operation consults with a variety of stakeholders, including original equipment manufacturers (OEMs), auto parts suppliers and government officials from the local to international levels.

Locally based motor vehicle manufacturers and parts-makers know Canada is a critical customer, according to Christine Drennen, acting director of BGSU’s Canadian Studies Center. “Last year, Ohio recorded a $5.8 billion transportation equipment trade surplus with Canada, the largest of any state,” she noted. “Corporate family trees and trade sprawl across the border and form a highly integrated international industry.”

The Canada-Ohio Business Dinner provides Ohio executives and managers of Canadian branch operations an annual opportunity to meet and discuss areas of mutual interest. Hosted by the Canadian Studies Center, the dinner is supported by Alcan Inc., the BGSU College of Business Administration and the Canadian Consulate in Detroit.

Reservations for the dinner are $20 per person. Tables of eight may be reserved for $120. Individuals may register online at For more information, contact the Canadian Studies Center at 2-2457.

October 30, 2006