A business alliance between six Southeast U.S. states and seven Canadian provinces will hold its first annual conference in Savannah June 15-17.

Government leaders selected the coastal Georgia city as the site for the inaugural gathering after signing the alliance’s founding charter on Nov. 16 of last year in Montreal.

At that time, on his 13th international trip, Georgia Gov. Sonny Perdue helped set down the agenda for a partnership he said would build even stronger ties with Georgia’s largest trading partner.

“This is the next step in a long and prosperous history between us. Canada is already Georgia’s top trading partner, with $212 million in imports and $4.7 billion in exports in 2006,” he said at the time.

Officials expect about 500 participants at the conference from a wide range of business sectors.

At a press conference following last year’s signing ceremony at the InterContinental Hotel in Montreal, Mr. Perdue and Quebec Premier Jean Charest cited energy, tourism, aerospace, and logistics as areas ripe for increased two-way activity and investment.

After the conference in Savannah, business leaders will assume control of the alliance, in keeping with organizers’ goal to have a partnership built on commercial rather than political interests.

Mr. Perdue appointed Robert Jepson, chairman and CEO of private investment firm Jepson Associates Inc., as conference chairman. Mr. Charest named Jean-Luc Trahan, CEO of Québec Manufacturers & Exporters Association, as co-chair.

Georgia and Quebec played leading roles in laying the groundwork for the alliance, which includes the states of Alabama, Georgia, Mississippi, North and South Carolina, and Tennessee and the Canadian provinces of Manitoba, New Brunswick, Newfoundland and Labrador, Nova Scotia, Ontario, Prince Edward Island and Quebec.

As managing editor of Global Atlanta, Trevor has spent 15+ years reporting on Atlanta’s ties with the world. An avid traveler, he has undertaken trips to 30+ countries to uncover stories on the perils...