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Today, World Trade Center St. Louis is releasing a regional export plan that assesses the current export climate of St. Louis, sets goals for increasing exports and lays out a detailed implementation plan that local business, civic and government leaders will follow to promote St. Louis’ growth.
The plan is the culmination of a year-long study conducted through the Global Cities Initiative, a joint project of the Brookings Institution and JPMorgan Chase. Launched in 2012, GCI helps business and civic leaders grow their metropolitan economies by strengthening international connections and competitiveness.
“Our goal is to help St. Louis companies open up new markets overseas,” said Sheila Sweeney, CEO, St. Louis Economic Development Partnership. “Our World Trade Center St. Louis is highly skilled at helping companies navigate U.S. export regulations and making connections to customers in foreign markets.”
Exports are an under-used economic development tool and only a small percentage of U.S. firms currently export. This metropolitan export strategy will help St. Louis businesses capitalize on the growing consumer class outside the United States to strengthen the local economy and grow jobs at home, according to a press release issued today by the St. Louis Economic Development Partnership.
One relevant stand-out metric from the report is export growth for services. Between 2003 and 2014 the report found exceptional growth in: Financial services (287 percent), technology (146 percent), management and legal (104 percent), information technology royalties (64 percent), and travel and tourism (22 percent). Travel and tourism management and information technology royalties are St. Louis’ main export services each at roughly $1 billion annually.
There’s More: New Funding for Startups Announced
As part of this rollout, JPMorgan Chase announced it is providing $125,000 to fund the first St. Louis Export Challenge in partnership with the annual Accelerate St. Louis Challenge. The donation will provide startup grants to businesses with the best exporting ideas.
“International trade provides a pathway for local businesses to create jobs, attract capital and grow our economy,” said Craig Horstmann, Region Manager, Commercial Bank, Chase. “JPMorgan Chase is proud to support the Metro St. Louis export program and hopes that our local businesses will take advantage of the program to help them discover new international markets. Their success will have a significant impact on our region’s future vitality and economic success.”
Applications for the St. Louis Export Challenge are currently open. All startups and small and medium size businesses with export ideas are encouraged to apply on the Accelerate St. Louis website. The deadline for submissions is 3pm on July 27.