In celebration of Foreign Trade Month, economic development officials and international trade practitioners provided an update on the various programs and resources available to support and promote the importing and exporting operations of local businesses to the Riverside City Council at their May 14, 2013 meeting.
Richard Dozier, Riverside County Office of Foreign Trade, highlighted several of the efforts that have been key in increasing the region’s position as a center for international trade and investment. In addition to multiple trade agreements and the expansion of the county’s Foreign Trade Zones, the Office of Foreign Trade has been actively promoting the development of EB-5 centers and providing export training to local business owners. The results are promising – 35 nations have already invested in Riverside County and an estimated 11,800 direct jobs with a payroll of $805 Million have been created from foreign investment. In addition, the County’s global rank for exporting regions jumped from 43rd in 2009 to 27th in the world.
Danielle Wheeler, March Joint Powers Authority, highlighted the benefits of the Foreign Trade Zone (FTZ) that serves the City of Riverside businesses. The FTZ is a geographic region that serves provides certain tax, tariff and duty benefits to companies that are importing, exporting, or adding value to imported materials before selling or distributing finished products. In 2012, 564 people were employed in active sites within the FTZ and $1 Billion worth of product moved through the zone. Because of these programs, businesses that take advantage of the FTZ, including Flexsteel and Skechers, have saved hundreds of thousands of dollars each year.
Another international resource is Riverside’s eight Sister Cities. Lalit Acharya, City of Riverside Mayor’s Office, noted how these relationships provide direct access to the economic and educational opportunities of each city. Examples of projects that have been a direct result of Riverside’s Sister City program include the relocation, expansion and research investments of SolarMax (estimated impact of $28.5 million to date and growing), Southern California Research Initiative for Solar Energy (SC-RISE), several student exchange opportunities, as well as the City’s signature Festival of Lights event and the more recent addition, Long Night of Arts & Innovation. Acharya estimated the overall Sister City impact to date to exceed $112 Million.
To watch the full international trade presentation, click here (Item #10, Workshop).
For more information on local international trade opportunities, be sure to attend the June 6 World Trade & Investment Summit.