As I thought of a message for December, looking back at this year and ahead to the next, I decided to focus on our member companies. It makes sense. Our members are at the heart of what we do as a world trade center - providing the international know-how and global connections to help our companies better their bottom line by going global. We consider ourselves as trusted partners in their success. We are proud that companies we assisted reported generating over $147M in new export sales in 2017, and we understand how much this means to these companies, their employees and families, and the communities in which they play such a strong role.
But this is only half of the story. As much as we support their success, our member companies help all of us. Last week I attended a meeting of our China Club, whose members gather to be briefed on major issues and topics concerning China trade, but most importantly, to learn from one another. The two hour meeting passed quickly, with three companies from diverse industries and with different business models, sharing their stories - what worked, what didn’t, what to do and what to avoid. The conversation was candid, honest, and provided invaluable insight, gained from direct experience, to the veterans and the newcomers in the audience. I came away thinking of the generosity of our members and the wealth of information they are ready to share with their fellow members.
Nationally, Commerce Department statistics indicate that over 304,000 American companies export, with 97%, or 297,343 classified as small business. The same percentages hold true in our region. It is also true that most of these small businesses lack or are unaware of the services available to help them grow exports. For this reason, we launched the Greater Philadelphia Export Plan with City and Regional leaders to increase exports in the Region, part of a national Brookings/JP Morgan Chase Global Cities Initiative. Supported by an important grant from the U.S. Economic Development Administration of the U.S. Department of Commerce, in 2018, we will be looking for those small and medium-sized businesses who are ready and eager to grow and increase their profitability in promising markets around the world. We will be seeking out established companies, but also the next great global entrepreneurs, minority and woman-owned enterprises. And, we will invite them to become part of our special learning community, where the newcomers connect with, and often partner with, veteran exporting companies.
And who knows, you may become our next China Club Member!
As you start the New Year, give thought to joining us. Because we believe so much in the value of the work we do and our desire to help more companies, we are offering a special introductory membership rate of $900 (normally $1,000) I encourage you to reach out to us for a complimentary meeting with our trade specialists here.
On behalf of our entire WTCGP team, I want to extend to all of our members, future members, and partners my best wishes for the holiday and a healthy and prosperous New Year,