The New Canada: Dazed And Confused

It's just five years old, but C-Mac Industries Inc. is one of those high-tech successes that entrepreneurs dream about. The producer of integrated microcircuits expects sales to almost double--to some $150 million this year. C-Mac President Dennis Wood says he's selling to "300 of the world's top 500 producers of electronics," who use his products for applications in the automotive and medical industries, among others. So C-Mac is thriving all right, but not in Silicon Valley. Instead, it is doing just fine in, of all places, Sherbrooke, Quebec.Canada, long known for its dependence on timber and grain, is developing a new entrepreneurial class that's dotting the landscape with startup companies and reviving old ones. This transformation of the economy stems directly from the 1989 Free-Trade Agreement penned by former Prime Minister Brian Mulroney, which wiped away most of the restrictive tariffs between the U.S. and Canada. Dropping these barriers goaded Canadian industry into its most dramatic restructuring since World War II. The result: a new Canada, with economic growth in the first half of 1993 of 3.4%, more than twice as fast as in the U.S. "Canada has the potential to grow faster than any of the other G-7 industrial powers for the rest of the decade," says Edward Neufeld, chief economist for Royal Bank of Canada.

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