Wilder School's CURA Leads Exports Effort
By Pamela Stallsmith
After nearly two years of work by the Wilder School's Center for Urban and Regional Analysis, the Greater Richmond Partnership, Virginia’s Gateway Region, JPMorgan Chase and the Virginia Economic Development Partnership and input from hundreds of businesses and local, state and regional officials, the long-awaited Metro Richmond Exports Initiative has been released.
The initiative grew out of the need to explore long-term sustainable economic development strategies to create jobs and new capital investment. Read the full report: Exports Initiative .
“This is an important day in the Richmond region as we begin to thinking about our collective future,” said VCU President Michael Rao, Ph.D. “We are connected, and we work best when we work together. We’re proud of the many ways that our region shapes VCU, and the ways that VCU leads the region forward.”
The Brookings Institution and its Global Cities Initiative provided technical support, while JPMorgan Chase provided funding. Also, JPMorgan Chase announced a $150,000 grant to support implementation of the initiative, including assistance grants to Richmond businesses that need support in their export growth activities.
“International trade provides a pathway for local businesses to create jobs, attract capital and grow our economy,” said Nick Klym, executive director of Chase Commercial Banking. “JPMorgan Chase is proud to be a part of the development of the Greater Richmond region’s export plan and to support innovative strategies that will help businesses learn to navigate international markets.”
The exports initiative was released during an event at The Boathouse at Sunday Park in Chesterfield County on Sept. 8.
The Metro Richmond Exports Initiative aligns with the mission of the new Virginia International Trade Corporation authorized by the General Assembly earlier this year. Richmond is the first metropolitan statistical area in Virginia to organize a formal exports initiative.
“The commonwealth is pleased to support this collaborative global initiative in the Richmond area,” said Virginia Secretary of Commerce and Trade Todd Haymore. “Thanks to Virginia’s international trade programs, we are able to support our small- and medium-sized businesses that may not have the capacity to market their products internationally on their own. I thank everyone who was involved in supporting this project and I look forward to seeing great results from this collaborative export initiative.”
The initiative’s goal is bold: it seeks to increase export success of small and medium businesses by 40 percent by 2020. This will happen by strengthening the metro exports ecosystem, increasing exports outreach and organizing policy feedback. The goal and each of the three strategies carry specific metrics to evaluate and measure the success of each program.
“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’,” said John Accordino, Ph.D., director of the Center for Urban and Regional Analysis and the interim dean of the Wilder School.
“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.”
As the next phase of the initiative kicks off, the Richmond area’s two regional economic development organizations—the Greater Richmond Partnership and Virginia’s Gateway Region—will begin to execute many of the program initiatives outlined in the strategy throughout the program year.
“The Metro Richmond Exports Initiative is an extraordinary borderless effort, and we’re excited to work with our partners to help local businesses grow in our region,” said Barry Matherly, president and CEO of the Greater Richmond Partnership. “After several years of hard work building consensus with stakeholders, we’re ready to hit the ground running. This initiative will make a meaningful difference for our MSA in new jobs and capital investment.”
Renee Chapline, president and CEO of Virginia’s Gateway Region, said, “With 81 percent of the bulk of potential demand for American products being outside the U.S., the ability to export is paramount to company health.
“As we work alongside our partners to implement the initiative, 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,” Chapline said. “It is a strong step in the right direction for the metro area's economy and Virginia overall."
Over the next four years, annual reports will document the progress of the initiative’s work. Adjustments to the programming may be made as warranted by the annual results and a robust communication plan will keep stakeholders informed of potential changes, successes and opportunities.