In Memoriam of Alan D. MacPherson, PhD

9/17/57  - 5/6/09

Dr. MacPherson was a Professor of Geography at the University at Buffalo and Director of CUSTAC. He was also Chair of the department from 2001-2007.  As an industrial geographer, his principal research interest concerned the relationship between technological innovation and regional economic development. He also had an active interest in export development and Canada-United States trade. His teaching included undergraduate and graduate courses in international business and economic geography. Dr. MacPherson received a B. A. degree from the University of Dundee, a professional (RTPI) diploma in urban planning from Edinburgh College of Art, and M. A. and Ph.D. degrees from the University of Toronto.


What is the Canada-United States Trade Center?

UB’s Canada-United States Trade Center (CUSTAC) has been in continuous operation since 1989, and has a mission to conduct applied and policy-oriented research on the evolving nature of Canada-US commercial relations with respect to trade, capital investment, border management, and regulatory conditions. CUSTAC is located in the Department of Geography.

CUSTAC is currently searching for a new Director and hopes to annouce the name in the spring of 2011. The Center's personnel is comprised of the Associate Director (James McConnell), 3 faculty members from UB’s Geography Department, 8 faculty members from other departments, 6 external members, and 70 CUSTAC Research Associates affiliated in business and academia. CUSTAC works closely with the Regional Institute, US Department of Commerce, US Federal Reserve, Empire State Development, US Small Business Administration, Canadian Consulate General, Buffalo, Industry Canada, and a wide variety of local policy agencies and private businesses within the Niagara Binational Region. CUSTAC supports Canadian-American Studies academic program at UB by: 1) conducting new research on issues that are of central importance to the Canada-US commercial or political relationship; (2) bringing the research results to the classroom at all educational levels; (3) providing modest research or travel funds to assist promising undergraduate students move to the MA level (with Graduate Certificates in Canadian Studies);  and (4) sponsoring or supporting professional conference sessions that focus on Canada-US relations.  For information on current activities, please go to our Current Research and Other Activities page.

One of the principal functions of the Center is to assist in the development of the trade and investment corridor between Western New York and Southern Ontario. In support of this goal, the University has fostered other centers of excellence, including the Center for Industrial Effectiveness, the Center for Entrepreneurial Leadership, and the Regional Institute. Together with these centers, CUSTAC undertakes basic and applied research on trade and investment issues related to both countries and the local border economies.


The primary function of CUSTAC is to advance basic and applied research on economic interactions and related issues between Canada and the United States and their respective international business partners. Special attention is given to the inter-country movements of commodities, services, technology, people, information, and capital. In addition to its own research agenda, CUSTAC encourages and occasionally supports other faculty and graduate students at the University at Buffalo to undertake specific research projects related to cross-border transactions between the two countries.

Current Research

CUSTAC has narrowed its research focus in recent years to concentrate on two critical issues: (1) border management, security, policy optimization; (2) Canadian industrial competitiveness in high technology sectors (e.g. commercial aerospace, GIS, industrial design).

Research Topics



During the first year of operation in 1988, CUSTAC established its Occasional Paper Series. Some of the varied topics discussed are trade and employment implications of decentralized US commercial aircraft production, impact of border security on local economy, Canadian-American Free Trade Agreement, North American Free Trade Agreement, cross-border issues, importing/exporting, foreign direct investment, trade issues, and geographic information services. 

Policy Analysis

CUSTAC sponsors and encourages policy-oriented studies of issues related to the economic interrelationships between Canada and the US (e.g. Grasping the New Economy). Such investigations are designed to formulate policy alternatives and to foster active discussion and debate on a variety of trade and investment issues that arise from the cross-border interactions of the two countries. CUSTAC sponsors and hosts conferences on policy- related topics affecting the international business community.

Business Services

In addition to providing various support services for research projects undertaken at UB and elsewhere within the Western New York Community, CUSTAC provides a variety of services for business executives and for private sector and government organizations and agencies in New York State and elsewhere. Such services include providing information from the Center's databases, distributing the findings of research projects carried out by the Center, assessing international marketing and investment strategies of businesses, providing referrals to private and public sector organizations, and promoting export-development activities within the local region.

Other web sites for information include International Trade Administration, Statistics Canada, Canadian Embassies and Consulates,

US Department of Commerce, USA Trade Online, and GeoGratis.  Please refer to the Canada Border Services Agency for travel information including the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative.


As a component of Canadian Studies activities at the University at Buffalo CUSTAC encourages, organizes, and sponsors occasional seminars and workshops on issues related to Canada-U.S. trade and investment activities. In addition, the Center promotes the development of graduate and under-graduate courses at the University that foster a better understanding of Canadian-U.S. relations. Moreover, it encourages, local, state, and federal policymaking groups to continue to give high priority to legislation that creates an equitable and stable environment for economic transactions between Canada and the U.S.

Refer to for information on international business and world trade.  You can also complete a graduate certificate in Canadian-Studies at UB.


NewMcConnell/MacPherson Award in International Trade

Please consider an online contribution to the McConnell/MacPherson Award or send your donations to:

P O Box 900
Buffalo, NY 14226

Your notation on the memo line should read: McConnell/MacPherson Award in International Trade

Thank you for your support.

Updated: September 1, 2010


Department of Geography College of Arts and Sciences