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Cities highlight international economic development initiatives.

The NLC Advisory Council's "futures" activities for 1993 are devoted to the topic of "Cities and Towns in the Global Economy." Many municipalities responded to a "call" for information on innovative strategies to promote local international economic development. Some of their stories appear below.

Recognizing the increased importance of global trade and the international marketplace, many cities are moving to create or enhance their economic development strategies. From cultural exchanges to business, to technology and medicine, U.S. cities and towns are seizing the opportunity to gain a competitive position in the international economy.

According to Mayor Meyera E. Oberndorf of Virginia Beach, Va."The social, economic and political climate of the nineties requires that all communities be made aware of the global opportunities available for creation of additional economic development through international trade and promotions."

Dallas, Tex.

pop. 1,OO6,880

The City's Office of International Affairs (OIA) is unique among City offices in terms of its funding, with virtually all of its operating budget provided by a private source, the Dallas International Educational Trust. One of OIA's many accomplishments over the past two years is the initiation of the "Ambassadors of Dallas" program, under which Dallasites living abroad are recruited to represent and promote the city on a voluntary basis.

To assist even the smallest Dallas firms in entering the international market, the International Trade Resource Center (ITRC) opened in 1989. In just over three years of operations, the ITRC has hosted 150 foreign trade delegations and facilitated matchmaking with local firms. It also provides counseling and evening courses that have introduced hundreds of small Dallas companies to international trade.

Fort Wayne.

Pop. 173,O72

In late 1991, the mayor established an international trade task force. The mission of the rusk force was to examine ways to promote international trade in Northeastern Indiana. The first recommendation of the task force was for the formation of an educational and networking organization. The World Trade Association of Northeast indiana, Inc. was formed in early 1992.

In a collaboration between the City, County, and Airport Authority, $60,000 was raised in 1992 to fund a U.S. Customs office at-Baer Field Airport, which was subsequently renamed "Fort Wayne International Airport."

To enhance the operations of the U.S. Customs Office, the city and the Fort Wayne-Allen County Airport Authority provided rent-free office space for one year to encourage JN. Cart, a customs brokerage firm, to establish a temporary office in Fort Wayne.

In 1991, Fort Wayne submitted an application for a foreign trade zone to the U.S. Foreign Trade Zone Board. The city's application was approved in 1992. The zone will be activated and operational this year. The city also published a "Local Directory of International Services," in 1992. The intent of the publication is to provide businesses with information about local: companies who can expedite the import-export process.

Lexington -Fayette, Ky.

Pop. 225,366

In the fall of 1987, the Lexington-Fayette Urban County, Government purchased a franchise in the World Trade Center's Association. The Kentucky World Trade Center (KWTC) was implemented as a non-profit corporation serving as a public/private economic devel* opment parmership. The KWTC serves as a focal point for many international activities with a major concentration on world trade promotion and assistance to businesses.

The KWTC conducts a quarterly series called "Get Ready for International Trade Sessions" (GRITS), which is staged centrally and broadcasts over the Kentucky Educational Television network to 16 sites in the state.

Foreign trade leads and international inquiries are referred to the KWTC by the Kentucky Chamber of Commerce. Basic market research is performed for local businesses seeking international markets. This research is conducted by student interns from vanous universities throughout the state. The Lexington Fayette Urban County Government sponsored a Canada-Kentucky Week in late 1992 to assist in establishing a sustained relation with Canada, Kentucky's leading trade partner.

Spartanburg, S.C

Pop. 43,467

The Chamber of Commerce, along with the Mayor, City and County Council and the Governor were very involved for some time with the BMW automobile plant in Munich, Germany,and succeeded in having that company choose the Spartanburg County area for a new plant to be built in the United States. The Governor and other officials traveled to Germany to deliver presentations highlighting the assets of many sites in Spartanburg County. The mild climate, accessibility to airport and interstate, and a workforce that was available (textile layoffs were heavy during the past few years) were among the many important factors that helped this area obtain this new business.

Sterling Heights, Mich.

Pop. 117810

The city has developed two major programs demonstrating their efforts in the international arena. One focuses on bringing businesses to the city from around the world; the other concentrates on welcoming new ethnic residents to the community.

Over the years, as new compames settle in Sterling Heights, the ethnic population of the city has grown more diverse. To reach these residents, the city began a special outreach program. The City Council formed the Sterling Heights Ethnic Community Issues Advisory Committee to ensure that all ethnic groups in the city have the resources and information necessary to make their voices heard. A weekly television show entitled "Ethnic News" broadcasts weekly on City Hall Television. The show, which features a synopsis of municipal news, to date, has been translated into Albanian, Chinese, Italian, and Polish.

The city has also created a marketing video aimed at both international and national markets. The video, "The Sterling Opportunity," has been translated in Japanese, German and French. The video promotes the City's resources which create a desirable community for businesses and residents. The fastpaced marketing piece uses testimonials from international companies in the city.

Suffolk, Va.

Pop. 52,141

The city's Department of Economic Development maintains close and constant communications with the state of Virginia's Governor's Office of Economic Development. The state of Virginia maintains staffed overseas offices in Brussels, Belgium and Tokyo, Japan. Additionally, the Virginia Port Authority and the Virginia Department of Agriculture also have overseas marketing offices.

Additional offices are located in Seoul, Korea; Hong Kong and San Paulo, Brazil. Coordination between these state agencies and the Suffolk Department of Economic Development provides an ongoing link that offers information on economic development opportunities. A liaison representative, located in the Governor's Office of Economic Development stateside, coordinates request and inquiries from the overseas offices with localities throughout the Commonwealth of Virginia.

On a more local level, the city of Suffolk participated along with four other Hampton Roads cities in a regional marketing organization known as Forward Hampton Roads. This is an umbrella marketing office that is an entity of the Hampton Roads Chamber of Commerce.

In addition to the city of Suffolk, the other Chamber communities are Norfolk, Chesapeake, Portsmouth, and Virginia Beach. Through the contacts of this combined marketing effort, existing international companies, located within the five-city area, are utilized as sources of contacts for other businesses that may be located in their country of origin.

These existing foreign companies provide an invaluable source of new business contacts as well as an insight of business conditions in their respective countries. A working reception is held both to acknowledge with appreciation the presence of these international companies, as well as to solicit their suggestions concerning other companies that might serve as new economic development prospect interest.

In business development, Virginia Beach, Virginia (pop. 393,069), is building international ally relationships through membership on the boards of organizations with a global emphasis, such as The Japan-Virginia Society and Hampton Roads Chamber of Commerce regional international Business Committee.

In tourism development, Virginia Beach has a thriving domestic and international tourism industry. The City maintains a representative office in Toronto and Montreal to assist in promoting Virginia Beach as a tourism destination.

Staff in this office initiates sales calls with tour professionals, coordinates travel writer familiarization tours, assists with sales mission planning and activities, supplies business information on issues to tourism and business development representatives in the city.

The NLC Advisory Council welcomes statements from cities that have not yet responded to our "call" for submission summaries of local efforts in international economic development. Please submit brief descriptions to Dorothy Cheek, National League of Cities, 1301 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W., Washington, D.C. 20004.
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Title Annotation:Futures Forum
Author:Cheek, Dorothy
Publication:Nation's Cities Weekly
Date:Mar 29, 1993
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