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Tuesday, June 13, 2006

 

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LA & LB WTCA Is ''Open for Business''

President dispels rumors that organization is closing its doors

LONG BEACH - The World Trade Center Association of Los Angeles / Long Beach will maintain the status quo and continue to serve its membership base as it transforms itself into "a facilitator of making trade an even more effective engine of the Southern California economy," according to Barry Sedlik, the group's president and chief executive officer.

Dismissing rumors that the trade promotion group is disbanding, Sedlik told the CalTrade Report during a recent interview that the organization - a member of the New York-headquartered, 300-member global World Trade Centers Association network - "is in the process of reinventing itself to see how we can be of more value" to businesses in Southern California that want to develop global business strategies.

Key to that development, he said, is "effectively exploiting" the relationship that was crafted two years ago when the World Trade Center Association was absorbed by the Los Angeles Economic Development Corp. (LAEDC), a private, non-profit organization established in 1981 with the mission to attract, retain and grow businesses and jobs in the greater Los Angeles region.

"The relationship [with the LAEDC] has given us access to the tremendous wealth of data they've accumulated. That's made us able to identify and focus on industries and companies in the region that have the greatest potential in overseas markets," he said.

"We're working very closely with the LAEDC to identify the core advantages of doing business in Los Angeles," said Sedlik, alluding to the region's "world-class transportation infrastructure, wealth of experience, and industry leadership in aerospace, manufacturing, apparel, technology and trade services, for example."
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In turn,? "the LAEDC has gained the tremendous advantage of the WTC brand, which has tremendous value, particularly outside the US."

'this "morphing," he said, "is part of a process to make us more effective in creating long-term strategic advantage for globally-minded companies, rather than just cookie-cutting one-time transactions," he said. "There's no long-term value in our helping someone get a single deal done when the core of success internationally is the development of long-term relationships."

Up until now, "we've neglected to see the wealth of riches in our own backyard," said Sedlik.
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Southern California is home to representatives from more than 100 countries, he said, saying a key component of the WTCA' s new mandate is targeting and pre-qualifying participants in both inbound and outbound trade missions.

"We want to make sure that the homework gets done before the mission, not after its over," he said. "Every country has marketing materials illustrating opportunities to do business, but we have to move from simply identifying those opportunities to finding compelling reasons to do business in a certain country."

The Association, he added, is working with San Diego-based trade consultancy Global Strategies LLC to target potential trade mission projects, adding that a trade mission to Cuba is planned later this month, while a mission to Eastern Europe is planned in the spring of 2004.
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According to Sedlik, who also serves as chief operating officer of the LAEDC, the organization will retain its name and maintain its pair of offices, located in downtown Los Angeles and 23 miles southwest in the World Trade Center in Long Beach.
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Over the next few months, he added, the Long Beach office will relocate from its present suites to the fourth floor of the World Trade Center to make room for the building's owner, Ensemble Investments LLC, to expand the building's existing conference center and meeting space.

The Association will continue to act as the base of operations for the City of Long Beach's International Trade Office, he said.

"Everytime there's a change, there's an opportunity," Sedlik said, referring, for example, to the growing list of concluded and developing free trade agreements between the US and countries and regions around the world.

"We have to recognize change and see how it impacts what we do. The changing dynamics of trade demand that we both be proactive and responsive, and that's exactly what we're doing."?

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