The Office of Economic Development presented to the City Council on Tuesday, Feb. 11 to provide an update on the City’s Foreign Trade and Investment Strategy and key partnerships with multiple city, county and regional agencies in an effort to increase exports from our local businesses, attract foreign direct investment for local projects and facilitate intergovernmental cooperation and trade partners with cities around the world. These partners include the Riverside County Office of Foreign Trade (OFT) , March Joint Powers Authority (JPA) the Office of the Mayor.
Economic development staff work closely with the OFT in their efforts to assist business owners, corporate officers, investors, and entrepreneurs with export and import assistance with the objective of creating new jobs and investment within the county. The City of Riverside sponsors the OFT’s annual College of Foreign Trade which will be held this spring to educate existing businesses on the exporting process.
The City is also an integral part of the Joint Powers Authority (JPA) and has two seats on the governing board. The JPA sought the approval of a Foreign Trade Zone (FTZ), which was granted in August 2000, not only for the benefit of the businesses located on land controlled by the JPA, but for Riverside businesses as well such as Flexsteel who participate in foreign trade and benefit from being included in the FTZ. In an expanding global economy there is increased competition among nations for jobs, industry and capital and the FTZ program encourages U.S.-based operations by removing certain disincentives associated with manufacturing in the United States.
The Sister City Program is another component of our foreign trade program. Riverside’s international ties predate President Dwight Eisenhower’s concept of sister cities to 1951. The first Sister City agreement was made with Sendai, Japan in 1957. Since then, Riverside has entered into seven other Sister City relationships: Cuautla (1968) and Ensenada (1976), Mexico; Jiangmen, China (1996); Gangnam, Republic of Korea (1999); Hyderabad, India (2000); Obuasi, Ghana (2008); and Erlangen, Germany (2011). The City budgets an average of $10,000 annually for Sister City activities. The Office of the Mayor has estimated the economic impact of the Sister City Program at over $112 million.
As discussed in the Office of Economic Development Foreign Trade and Investment strategy, the National Export Initiative (NEI) has set a national strategy for exports and is facilitating growth by providing US businesses opportunities for training, financing, and trade missions. NEI indicates that the three primary areas of recent export growth are in the motor vehicle industry, agricultural products, and the travel and tourism sector. Riverside is in a position to capitalize on each of these growing sectors with automotive component businesses such as Bourn’s and K&N Filters, the Green Belt and local food movement, and our abundant sunshine, historical assets, convention center, universities, and tourist destinations in the City and region.
In order to compete in a global economy, local businesses need specialized tools and training relative to export regulations, export financing, foreign currency exchange, trade tariffs, foreign direct investment, and market research. The City of Riverside is ready to assist in growing our local economy by assisting our employers in these specific areas.
To learn more about the Office of Economic Development Foreign Trade and Investment Strategy, click here.