A new project aimed at increasing exports by local businesses in Richmond launched Thursday.
The goal of the Metro Richmond Exports Initiative is to increase international trade activity by small and medium businesses in the area by 40 percent by 2020.
The program will track its progress by monitoring the number of companies exporting for the first time and the number of existing exporters entering new foreign markets .
The project will include
• the creation of a Metro Richmond Exports website,
• monthly luncheons featuring experienced exporters,
• the development of an “Exporting 101” curriculum,
• export assistance grants to potential exports, and
• collaboration with the Virginia Economic Development Partnership to develop export-ready companies.
The initiative is being implemented at a time when the commonwealth is creating a new agency, Virginia International Trade Corp., to promote trade.
The Richmond-area initiative grew out of a desire to explore long-term economic development strategies to create jobs and new capital investment. While the Richmond area is home to number of exporters, the region trails other metro areas in export activity, according to program organizers.
Thursday’s launch of the initiative was the result of two years of work involving the Virginia Commonwealth University’s Center for Urban and Regional Analysis, the Greater Richmond Partnership, Virginia’s Gateway Region, JPMorgan Chase and the Virginia Economic Development Partnership.
“Metro Richmond has a diverse array of industries, ranging from agriculture, to manufacturing, to engineering and management services. Every one of these industries has companies that make products and services that can be exported to a world that is eager to buy ‘Made in America’,” John Accordino said in a statement. He is director of the Center for Urban and Regional Analysis and the interim dean of the L. Douglas Wilder School of Government and Public Affairs at VCU. “Through the initiative, these companies will find the services and resources that help them realize their export potential, and that will help to grow the region’s economy.”
The Brookings Institution and its Global Cities Initiative provided technical support for the initiative. JPMorgan Chase provided funding for the planning plus a $150,000 grant to support implementation of the initiative, including assistance grants to Richmond businesses that need support in their export growth activities.