California is ''Open for Business''
Top state trade official outlines Governor's trade promotion plans
LOS ANGELES - 05/12/04 - The economic future of California "is in the hands of a governor who fully understands and appreciates the role that international trade plays in our state's $1.3 trillion economy," said Sunne Wright McPeak, speaking before the recent "One Global California" conference in Los Angeles.
Keynote luncheon speaker at the conference, McPeak told the 200-plus attendees that Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger's "global vision for the state rests on taking full advantage of the expertise that already exists within California's international trade community to create effective strategic alliances between the broadest possible range of business and trade-related groups."
These alliances, she told attendees at the day-long conference at the Biltmore Hotel - organized by the CalTrade Report and the Los Angeles Area Chamber of Commerce - "will lay the foundation for job growth and our future economic prosperity."
"International trade creates industrial growth and stimulates investment, and, in turn, jobs," she said.
According to McPeak - the former head of the Bay Area Council who was named to head the state's Business, Transportation and Housing Agency in January - the state has reappraised its role in promoting and facilitating international trade in California, which now ranks as the world's sixth largest economy.
"Last December 31, the state government's role in trade dissolved with the de-funding of the California Technology, Trade & Commerce Agency and the closing of our 13 overseas trade offices," she said. "This compelled us to rethink and redirect our efforts to best take advantage of California's unique brand and its historic position as the nation's leading trade state."
Over the past several months, McPeak said, her office has, at the Governor's direction,? "reached out to the California international trade community to find out who does what best and draw them together to come up with viable solutions for the most pressing issues facing the businesses that call California home."
The issues are "daunting," she said, with the issues of an over-burdened transportation infrastructure, a lack of access to export financing, overlapping multi-jurisdictional business regulations, reduced budgets, and a legislature - seen as 'anti-business' - largely uneducated on the impact that trade has on the state's overall economic well-being topping the list.
"We're facing some serious issues," said McPeak. "But with the state's economic development agencies, Centers for International Trade Development, World Trade Centers, bi-lateral trade organizations, chambers of commerce, trade service providers and others working together, we can come up with economically-viable and efficient ways to regain California's competitive edge."
She singled out several entities including the Cal Trade Consortium - comprised of the Bay Area Economic Forum, the Monterey Bay International Trade Association, and the Los Angeles Area Chamber of Commerce - the Los Angeles Economic Development Corp. (LAEDC), the California Council for International Trade, and the California Chamber of Commerce among the?"leaders in the effort to promote California around the world."?
McPeak alluded to the recently crafted California Trade Initiative (CTI), a mechanism crafted by the US Department of Commerce (DOC) that will, in effect, put the worldwide network of Commerce's Foreign & Commercial Service at the disposal of California-based companies wanting to take their products and services global.
Services will include expedited country market research, industry specific information, statistical data, trade leads, and participation in special trade missions and videoconferences.?
The CTI will start operations late this summer with Michael Liikala, senior commercial attach頡t the US Embassy in Madrid, Spain, being reassigned to California to head the new program.
"The new Initiative will give us a huge boost in getting the California brand into new markets all over the world," said McPeak, alluding to Gov. Schwarzenegger's recent trip to Israel to discuss bi-lateral business opportunities with one of California's most important trading partners.
"We need to get the word out that there is a new environment in Sacramento and that we want to partner with the state's international trade community to make California a springboard to the world," she said.
"We now have a Governor that knows how to effectively market a California brand name that is known far and wide and the timing couldn't be better to take advantage of everything that California has to offer."
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