By Virginia’s Gateway Region
Hundreds of participants and speakers emerged from the 68th Virginia Conference on World Trade with two shared conclusions: international trade remains crucial to the health and growth of the state economy, and Virginia must work to improve exporting levels.
“Over 30 percent of economic activity in Virginia comes from exports,” said Secretary of Commerce and Trade Todd Haymore. “$36 billion in revenues come from international trade. We’re doing everything from soybeans to cybersecurity.”
Major business leaders and service providers in the international arena joined enterprises new to or considering exporting at the conference in Norfolk earlier this week. Highlights from the two-day event included sessions on how to begin exporting and success stories from those already trading internationally. Representatives from commodities to manufacturers and service providers illustrated the vast spectrum of goods and services pertinent to exporting. The Virginia Conference on World Trade also showcased up and coming markets such as Cuba, Vietnam and the United Kingdom as opportunities for Virginia businesses.
VCU’s Dr. John Accordino introduced the Metro Richmond Exports Initiative (MREI), a new, innovative pilot program – the first of its kind in Virginia. MREI aims to foster business growth in the Richmond Metro Area through increased export activity. This initiative will offer various programs throughout the year to provide export training, export strategy assistance, trade mission scholarships and other export resources to businesses. Specific to the Virginia Conference on World Trade, several area businesses received conference grants to attend on behalf of MREI and to further learn about exporting their products and services.
“It has been less than a month since the launch of MREI and I am pleased that we are taking steps to engage our local businesses with access to export assistance,” said Renee Chapline, president and CEO of Virginia’s Gateway Region Economic Development Organization. “We are thrilled to be a part of this proactive approach and look forward to great results in growing exports in the Richmond MSA.”