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HUNTER ARNOLD: Mississippi, Gulf Coast states focus on global business markets

Hunter Arnold

Hunter Arnold

It is true that, as technology becomes more advanced, the world is getting smaller. Markets are becoming truly global. So you will be happy to know that both Mississippi and Louisiana each have organizations focused on promoting our products to the global marketplace. Each of these states has World Trade Center organizations, which are non-profits that are fully-licensed members of the World Trade Centers Association in New York.

Since 2001, Waggoner has been involved with Mississippi’s World Trade Center. Waggoner founder Joe Waggoner served as president of the Mississippi WTC board from 2006-2008, and now I have the honor of serving in that role for 2014-2015. Waggoner’s support of this organization is rooted in our belief that the people of our region have a unique character and quality to offer the global marketplace, and that our region’s quality of life will be enhanced by greater international commercial and cultural exchange.

The World Trade Center is closely monitoring world events and their effects on Mississippi businesses – events like the prospect of normalizing relations with Cuba, the Panama Canal Expansion due to be open in 2016, and Mississippi’s recent trade mission to Israel.

World Class, and Made in Mississippi

Believe it or not, more than $14 billion in products and services are exported internationally from Mississippi annually to 185 countries worldwide, supporting more than 45,000 jobs in our state. And though the bulk of that volume is made up of agricultural, petroleum, coal, chemicals, and paper, our exports also include the best in automobiles/transportation equipment, and computer and electronics. Our state produces not only world-class technology like electronic audio equipment, unmanned aircraft, space shuttle engines and military-grade ships and aircraft, but also cultural treasures like Elvis, the blues, and scores of notable authors and athletes.

Who is the Mississippi World Trade Center?

World Trade Center Mississippi is a 501(c)-6 non-profit, non-political business development organization that serves as a gateway to the world of international trade and cross-cultural understanding. Receiving its operating license on April 23, 2001, WTC Mississippi joined more than 300 other members of the World Trade Centers Association, a prestigious and exclusive New York-based global association of branded properties and trade service organizations located in 92 countries and supported by 15,000 professionals delivering integrated, reciprocal resources for international business development. WTC Mississippi was initiated by the governor’s office and the Mississippi Development Authority as a public-private partnership.

Governed by a 17-member private sector board of directors, WTC Mississippi is the only non- profit membership organization in the state with the single mission of promoting international trade, investment and tourism.

What WTC Mississippi Does

WTC Mississippi connects the business community to the people, the companies, the data, and the government agencies that make up the fabric of global commerce. It provides tools for conducting more efficient global business and serves as a one-stop shop for international trade information and assistance. WTC Mississippi offers its members and the state of Mississippi access to, and the skilled use of, some of the world’s most powerful and up-to-date trade database information.

Educational workshops, seminars, conferences, publications, trade information, referrals, market research and networking events are available to all clients and customers at a fee. A member’s cost is reduced for all these services.

The Core Values of WTC Mississippi

Service-oriented: Continuously seeking to better understand member needs and offer solutions that deliver value and create long-term relationships

Responsive: Striving for efficient and meaningful interaction

Collaborative: Working together to create an enriching culture built on trust and respect

Innovative: Being strategic, entrepreneurial, and forward-thinking

Ethical: Conducting business with integrity and transparency

Culturally diverse: Fostering creativity, productivity and mutual appreciation

How We Grow Trade

Steadfastly serving the statewide business community, WTC Mississippi offers an ever-growing menu of trade services and membership benefits that stimulate trade and investment opportunities for commercial property developers, economic development agencies and international businesses looking to connect globally and prosper locally. Working with its partners, WTC Mississippi helps its members and clients to:

» Leverage global business connections that help foster investment and trade opportunities, Increase outreach, visibility and partnership through WTCA’s global assets and support.

» Stimulate investment in local communities by obtaining best practices insights from peers worldwide.

An Economic Development Tool

WTC Mississippi offers a global toolbox of technical, research, educational and networking resources to state and local economic developers to increase their efficiency and effectiveness. Properly used and leveraged, these tools can enhance existing business programs, support regional tourism efforts, facilitate internationalization and promote the continued development of an integrated, multi-modal transportation system. Economic development organizations and chambers of commerce can utilize the services of the World Trade Center to:

» Support the bottom line of local businesses by connecting them to reciprocal World Trade Center facilities and international business services worldwide

» Create, retain and expand jobs, and develop the local tax base by raising the international profile of their city/region. Cost-effectively market investment opportunities to targeted audiences by participating in organized trade shows, trade missions and investment fairs promoted by WTC Mississippi and its partners

The Mission Continues, as we Honor Our ‘Ambassador’

Any account of the past or the future successes of WTC Mississippi must mention the long-time “ambassador” of the cause, Barbara Travis, CECD, our recently “retired” Executive Director. Her ardent vision and charming influence for WTC in Mississippi have made it look easy to form and build WTC into its strong position today. Mississippi’s governor, along with the Mississippi Development Authority, originally asked Travis to lead the organization when it was formed in 2001. They could not have made a better choice. Today, Mississippi and the larger WTC brand have both benefitted immensely from Travis’ leadership, and we all owe to her a tremendous debt of gratitude for the progress that has been gained.

Thanks to WTC Mississippi Executive Director Tracy Diez and her staff for their support in compiling this article. Portions of this article were contributed by WTC Mississippi.

» Hunter Arnold is the vice president of business development, Waggoner Engineering and president of the Mississippi World Trade Center.

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