Contributed Report, The Progress Index
RICHMOND — After nearly two years of work by Virginia Commonwealth University’s Center for Urban and Regional Analysis, the Greater Richmond Partnership and Virginia’s Economic Development Partnership, Virginia’s Gateway Region economic development organization, has announced their implementation of the Metro Richmond Exports Initiative. MREI is a pilot program — the first of its kind in Virginia.
The Richmond group has the potential to serve as a premier U.S. hub for exporting due to its proximity to international gateways at the Port of Virginia and Dulles International Airport.
In the last 30 years, world gross domestic product has more than doubled, currently standing at roughly $84 trillion. This increase has given rise to unprecedented global demand, providing significant export opportunities for U.S. companies of all sizes. MREI aims to harness all of the exporting assets that Richmond group has to offer in order to promote the region as a center for international trade. Among its goals is the ambitious agenda to boost the exports of small and medium businesses in the region by 40 percent over the next four years.
“We are very excited to be a part of this initiative. With 81 percent of the bulk of potential demand for American products being outside of the U.S., the ability to export is paramount to company health,” said Renee Chapline, president and CEO of Virginia’s Gateway Region. “As we work alongside our partners to implement MREI, we will be giving our companies the ability to access these consumers, allowing them to increase profits, create new jobs and become competitive on the global level.”
Stimulating export growth will bolster the Richmond group’s GDP, creating new jobs with wages above the current regional average. Businesses engaged in exporting enjoy higher productivity and turn larger profits, injecting more money into the local tax base and improving the overall quality of life in the region.
To achieve the goals set forth by the initiative, Virginia’s Gateway Region will work to bring awareness to new and existing services offered by various providers throughout the area. Collaboration with local business leaders already exporting, a new introductory exports curriculum and available grants and usage funds specific to export training and assistance will aid businesses in transitioning into globally-active companies.
In addition to their work on the Metro Richmond Exports Initiative, Virginia’s Gateway Region is looking forward to the launch of their new five-year strategic plan for economic development, “Driving Economic Growth and Embracing a Global Future 3.0” (Global 3.0!). If successful, Global 3.0! will create 3,000 jobs and $700 million in new capital investment. This is an outstanding opportunity for the community to join with private businesses to create a strong eco-system of job creation through collaboration, helping to boost the economy and bring more opportunities for citizens into the region.