Gone are the days when regions such as Metro Richmond could succeed economically just by recruiting new businesses. For decades, the world economy has been growing faster than the United States’, and other countries are attracting increasing shares of global investment and business.
The good news: 95 percent of the world’s consumers live outside the U.S., and many are interested in buying American products and services. To thrive in the 21st century, Metro Richmond must embrace the global economy and make sure that its businesses have the services and capital they need to sell to growing global markets.
For the past year, the Center for Urban and Regional Analysis (CURA) at Virginia Commonwealth University, the Greater Richmond Partnership and Virginia’s Gateway Region, along with other public and private sector partners, have been working toward that goal.
Through numerous discussions and focus groups with businesses, export service providers and public officials throughout the region, CURA has identified factors that hinder exporting and those that can help to promote it.
On Tuesday, March 22, from 7:30 to 9 a.m. at the Williams Mullen Center in downtown Richmond, CURA will present the draft Metro Richmond Export Strategy’s goals, objectives and metrics that have resulted from the past year’s work. The final report will be released in June.
Maurice Jones, Virginia Secretary of Commerce and Trade, will discuss what the state is doing to enhance exports.
“Enhancing international trade is one of our best business expansion strategies, and the Commonwealth has incredible programs that help prepare Virginia businesses to reach new customers globally,” Jones said. “I applaud the partners in the Richmond region for prioritizing exports and look forward to working together to dramatically increase international trade in the region.”
John Accordino, Ph.D., director of CURA, which is part of the L. Douglas Wilder’s School of Government and Public Affairs, said, “With a good strategy in place, Metro Richmond has the opportunity to increase exports by its small- and medium-size businesses by 50 percent over the next five years.”
That can be achieved by solidifying the network of service providers and resources, such as establishing a web portal and making sure that businesses have access to market research and financial, legal and regulatory information. It also requires an aggressive marketing and education campaign to dramatically increase awareness of the export opportunity and tools available to businesses.
Other partners include JPMorgan Chase & Co., which provided funding, and the Virginia Economic Development Partnership’s International Trade Division.