By: Karen Gerwitz Issue: Innovation, Growth, Job Creation Section: Community
Connecting Its Global Network LIVE!
When envisioning a conference on international trade that is set in the center of the United States, images of shipping companies and trade show halls come to mind. However, World Trade Day 2011 was more about building relationships via cable networks, face-to-face dialogue, and visiting international delegations.
In 1935, President Delano Roosevelt declared the third week in May "World Trade Week,” and organizations have been celebrating it in their unique ways ever since. Denver has featured World Trade Day since the early 1970s, and the conference has been hosted by the World Trade Center Denver since its inception in 1987, with themes varying from “Global Business: Your Passport to Profits,” to “Trade in Turbulent Times: Great Challenge Brings Great Opportunity.” This year’s theme was “Focus on Europe – Direct Access to European Markets.” While World Trade Day in Denver has always been about educating companies in Colorado and surrounding states on how to export and succeed in international business, this year’s World Trade Day was all about making direct connections and collaborating within the global World Trade Center network.
Using the latest in videoconferencing technology, participants convened near the University of Denver at The Cable Center to connect live, engage in business-to-business dialogue, and collaborate with companies associated with the World Trade Centers in Twente, the Netherlands; Milton-Keynes, the United Kingdom; Marseille, France; and Stuttgart, Germany. The purpose of these dialogues was to connect with select regions of Europe in hopes of building a long-standing business relationship and of fostering new opportunities for both sides. Participants learned of the regions’ needs and how Colorado companies could fill those needs, all the while showcasing Colorado’s strengths and highlighting its needs as well.
Tapping the vast World Trade Center network of 320 World Trade Centers in nearly 100 countries may take some time, but starting with four markets at this year’s World Trade Day demonstrated the power of collaboration and showcased this network’s capabilities of facilitating new business for companies both in Colorado and abroad.
While the World Trade Center network provided the necessary connections abroad for this conference, it took several local organizations to help pull off a multi-country, real-time dialogue. The World Trade Center Denver relied on the support of the French American Chamber of Commerce, the German American Chamber of Commerce, the BeNeLux Chamber of Commerce, and the British Consul General to serve as moderators for the various dialogues.
The moderators played a vital role to keep the dialogue flowing, but were also observing the select areas for follow-up, so that an industry-specific videoconference or trade mission sometime in the near future could occur. Several areas were identified as potential partnerships, especially in the fields of solar technology, biotechnology, green building, and university research partnerships.
And, as business people know, technology brings business closer to home, no matter where the buyer is located. Most companies that start out exporting do so because they received an international order from their website. This was the case with TogetherBe, a 3-person, Colorado-based company that manufactures baby carriers and exports them all over Europe.
Very soon, all companies associated with World Trade Centers around the globe will be able to connect on WTCA Live! – a social media network designed for the World Trade Centers Association. The World Trade Center Denver is pleased to play a role in helping to make this a reality. With technology, collaboration today is easy, and there are no longer reasons for excuses that international business is not viable. Whether it is education, contacts or information one needs to succeed internationally, the World Trade Center serves as a resource to entrepeneurs to trade to prosperously.
Karen Gerwitz is the Executive Director of the World Trade Center Denver, which facilitates international trade by educating, serving and connecting businesses in the Rocky Mountain Region to the global World Trade Centers Association network. For more information, go to www.wtcdenver.org or www.wtca.org.