Economy League, World Trade Center to Launch Export Initiative to Grow Region's Business
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Economy League, World Trade Center to Launch Export Initiative to Grow Region's Business


November 19, 2014
Francis Hilario, Philadelphia Business Journal


The Economy League and the World Trade Center of Greater Philadelphia have partnered together to launch a metro export plan geared toward boosting regional business growth, supported by a $200,000 grant by the U.S. Economic Development Administration.


"Greater Philadelphia has excellent core assets for exporting — advanced manufacturing and services clusters; a skilled workforce; strong air, port, and rail connections; and capable support organizations — yet we lag behind competitor regions on key export indicators," Steve Wray, executive director of the Economy, said in a release. "Now is the perfect time to take a closer look at how we're performing and advance shared strategies to take our region's export activity to the next level."


As part of the partnership, both organizations will lead a 12-month project to develop a metro export strategy for the region. A market assessment is projected to be released next summer, with the completion of the export plan by the end of next year.


The institutions found that only 5 percent of U.S. companies export and, of that percentage, only 58 percent export to only one market, "underscoring the significant opportunity for Greater Philadelphia … to grow by going global." The organizations found that doubling the region's annual export growth rate would generate up to 40,000 new jobs in the region in five years.


"People focus on economic development strategies, but they don't [focus] on getting more export activity," said Joshua Sevin, managing director of regional engagement at the Economy League. "When we are growing our exports, we are growing our local job base. … [It's] how can we work together even more given existing resources to boost the export number."


To date, about 20 U.S. metropolitan areas have completed their own metro export plan, such as San Diego. The organizations will be applying to participate in the Global Cities Initiative, a joint project by Brookings and JPMorgan Chase.


The $200,000 grant will not only fund the export plan, but will also fund in-depth analysis and strategy development as well as the formation of a World Class Business Growth Network in the region.

International business leaders spoke during the Philadelphia Business Journal's 2014 Global PHL event, where they emphasized the importance of raising the city's international footprint.


"The real challenge is to really make more companies, both large and small, aware of the resources that are available to grow their business and, in turn, grow the region's economy," Linda Mysliwy Conlin, president of the World Trade Center of Greater Philadelphia, said earlier.