University to establish World Trade Institute
By Catherine Doss
Spectrum Volume 20 Issue 21 - February 19, 1998
A long-term collaborative effort between the Virginia Economic Development Partnership (VEDP) and Virginia Tech has resulted in a $245,000 grant to establish a World Trade Institute at the university.
The institute will assist exporters by training economic-development professionals and other service providers in identifying markets, market planning, financing, shipping, and the legal requirements of export trade. By participating in this training program, participants, in turn, will provide extensive outreach, counseling, and technical assistance to Appalachian region companies with export potential.
Throughout the two-year program, an export leader will be available to provide assistance to each participant. Upon completion, participants will receive certification as export-development specialists. These individuals will be qualified to identify companies with export potential, target companies' export needs, find answers to needs, and ultimately increase exports throughout the Appalachian region of Virginia.
"This announcement is particularly important for many reasons," said J. Douglas McAlister, executive director of Virginia Tech's Public Service Programs, a unit of the university's Outreach Division. "Exports have been the primary driving force behind economic growth in the United States over the past six years."
In Virginia, from 1990-95, exports have produced 80-85 percent of all new economic growth.
"So while the economy is experiencing many forms of downsizing, exports are growing, and as a result, new jobs are being created to meet burgeoning demand for Virginia products and services," McAlister said.
Southwest Virginia is often referred to as the "export bread basket" of Virginia because so much manufacturing takes place there. The concept of developing a cadre of export-development specialists in strategic locations throughout the Appalachian region of the state is the brain child of George Hiller, international-marketing manager with the VEDP and Joe Adams, economic-development specialist at Virginia Tech. Hiller and Adams recognized the potential to increase exports from southwest Virginia if there was a "circuit rider" (export-development specialist) in key regions to provide one-on-one, direct export assistance to small and mid-sized businesses.
"The end result will be more sales abroad and consequently, more jobs in this region of the state, which has some of the highest unemployment rates," Adams said.
The Appalachian Regional Commission and the Virginia Department of Housing and Community Development provided funding to initiate the World Trade Institute.
"Both organizations recognized the strong history of collaboration between the VEDP and Virginia Tech," McAlister said.
Dixon Hanna, interim vice provost for outreach at Virginia Tech said more than $800,000 in grant money had been generated in the last year by Public Service Programs faculty members to transfer research findings and scholarship to the creation of jobs and wealth for Virginia.
"Public Service Programs is applying the strength of a major research university to the practical problems facing state and local governments," Hanna said.
For more information about the World Trade Institute, contact Adams at 1-8386; e-mail: email@example.com.