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Newark's international economic development initiatives; cities and towns in the global economy.

Mayors and legislators throughout the United States must become global as well as local innovators and thinkers for municipal economic development to succeed in the 21st century. To do less courts continued decline for some or stagnation for even the best positioned cities.

America's cities large and small must redefine their economic development agendas or be left behind in the global competition for jobs and investment. From cultural and educational exchanges, to industrial and financial joint ventures, our nation's cities and towns are at the dawn of a new age of global participation, job opportunity, and economic growth.

We in the City of Newark are blessed with an excellent infrastructure that we believe positions us ideally to meet the global challenges of the 21st century. We are in the middle of the largest consumer market concentration in the United States. We have the largest containership port on the east coast, the fastest growing airport in the region and are served by major rail lines and interstate highways.

By virtue of our outstanding transportation facilities, Newark has the added ability of being able to attract and draw from the regional labor market, as well as its own resident population.

In addition, the largest concentration of universities, hospitals, telecommunications facilities and research centers in New Jersey is housed in Newark.

While the cites assets are impressive, they alone are not sufficient to enable Newark to be a competitive player in the world's marketplace. Even more important is leadership, vision, a viable economic development plan which is based upon accurate evaluation of a city's own assets as well as international markets, and a competent staff to do the job.

Most cities and towns have resources which can be used to plan a global economic initiative. But in order to do this, local elected officials must understand their asset base and the markets with which they want to trade.

One way mayors and local leaders can prepare their cities for global competition is through innovative public/private partnerships. The mayor has the heaviest responsibility to define the mission and put together the collaborations to carry this out. Research must be done on markets and regions, an assessment of local resources must be compiled, and from this a list of prospects for trade and strategic partnerships is generated.

Last year, I had the great privilege and thrill of visiting mainland China, along with a delegation of Newark business leaders. This trade mission was sparked by inquiries from Chinese officials and businesses interested in investing in Newark and was organized by the Metro Newark Chamber'of Commerce.

China was selected for this mission because it has the fastest growing economy and largest consumer market in Asia. The State of New Jersey exports an estimated $66 million in goods annually to China, according to 1990 statistics. The figures also note that an estimated $8 billion in goods are exported to China and Hong Kong via Port Newark each year,

Our visit with governmental and business leaders in such cities as Shanghai, Beijing, and Huzhou also gave us an opportunity to assess their needs and identify trade development opportunities. Our Chinese hosts were extremely gracious and made sure that we shared in their country's rich cultural experiences as well.

Since that time, Chinese officials have come to Newark to discuss sites and distribution channels for goods manufactured in China and assembled in the United States. High tariffs and trade barriers make it more profitable for the Chinese to find American partners to assist them in the final assembly of their products.

The Metro Newark Chamber of Commerce has aggressively promoted similar trade arrangements between our city and Latin America and the Caribbean countries. Sister City agreements with Freeport in the Bahamas and Aveiro in Portugal have also opened doors for cultural and trade arrangements between Newark and these communities.

Each year the Chamber holds an "Export Matchmaker" event, which brings together foreign businesses and local companies seeking to export. Co-sponsored by the U.S. Small Business Administration, the 1992 event attracted more than 800 participants. The Newark Economic Development Corporation (NEDC), a public/private partnership charged with attracting and maintaining investment in the City of Newark, provides expert management and professional assistance to foreign investors and busi- nesses seeking sites, financ- ing, tax incentives and local governmental approvals. This agency is reaching out to business and government in the newly independent states of the former Soviet Union to invite them to establish trade relationships with businesses in the City of Newark.

Despite all our local efforts, we need the backing of other levels of government. Municipal leaders should encourage state governments to rewrite their strategic plans for international economic development to support local endeavors with money and information. Congress and the Administration also have a role to play.

The vast federal data base of foreign contacts and investment potential must be made available to America's mayors and other elected officials. This information will help municipal leaders and their economic development staffs identify target markets and the individual contacts that would be most useful in establishing strategic partnerships with a foreign government or company.

Fifty years ago, in a radio address, Wendell Wilkie, an unsuccessful presidential candidate said, 'There are no distant points in the world any longer." He went on to say that modern transportation and communication links brought the far East as close to America as Los Angeles is by fast train from New York. "Our thinking must be worldwide," he asserted.

Today the dismantling of borders and barriers between countries forces us to think and act "world-wide." And, in the end, it is the individual city and its officials who, in realizing their vision, create new jobS, ratables, and businesses through local partnerships.

Like the city-states of ancient times, commercial links and cultural ties will intermingle. The shared enrichment will be both material and intellectual, and the ultimate outcome will benefit America's cities and towns, and their global partners.
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Title Annotation:Newark, New Jersey
Author:James, Sharpe
Publication:Nation's Cities Weekly
Date:Mar 1, 1993
Words:992
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