Program Updates

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Greater Richmond Export Initiative

April 02, 2014

Business First Greater Richmond, the business retention and expansion program of the Greater Richmond Partnership, is launching the Greater Richmond Export Initiative, a regional effort to grow local exports. Modeled after the Metropolitan Export Initiative of the Brookings Institution, the project will work to reach companies at their point of production where industries cluster and innovate, tap into regional supply chains, take advantage of the metro’s intermodal transportation network, and utilize strategic relationships with local, state, and federal leaders to access a large yet manageable audience – all for the purpose of boosting international sales activity.

In order to be successful, GRP will rely upon the partnership and programming of four critical export resource providers, all with local presence: Virginia Economic Development Partnership – International Trade Division; United States Department of Commerce; Small Business Administration; and Virginia Small Business Development Center. Each group offers a variety of export-related services and information to firms, regardless of the stage in their exports discovery process. Recognizing the expansive reach that these entities cover, especially when leveraged together, the strategy behind the regional initiative can be summarized in four goals which the Partnership will spend the next three years working towards:

1) Establish a mechanism for better directing companies to local exporting resources
2) Utilize GRP’s Business First site visitation process to gather export-specific information from regional companies
3) Grow the value of regional exports by $1 Billion  over three years
4) Increase the number of small community banks in the region offering SBA-backed export loan guarantees

Despite the advantages of the region’s access to ports, airways, highways and trains, the variety of companies developing goods and services of superior quality, and the professional expertise of our many partners, Greater Richmond’s export activity remains below the national average. It is the hope of GRP that the accomplishment of these goals will put the region on the right trajectory, moving the area into more positive export revenues and volumes in the years to come.

While historically not recognized as such, exports should be considered a fundamental strategy of existing business programs. A whopping ninety-five percent of the world’s consumers live outside of the US. Companies engaged in exports are likely to experience increased demands for goods and services and therefore see upticks in activity. These trends contribute to more stable regional economies which experience less fluctuation during economic downturns, and create a domino effect in terms of need for larger facilities, more jobs, and payment of higher wages. According to Brookings, every $1B in new exports (goods and services) creates roughly 5,400 direct and indirect jobs within a community. An even more compelling consideration, industries with $10B in export sales within a metro area report incomes at levels 10% to 20% higher than metro industries without the same level of export sales. In 2010, the Richmond area posted $5.4B in total metro export revenues (export revenues accounted for 8% of the Metro GDP). Ranked among the largest 100 metros in the country, the value of our exports earned the region the 51st slot. When ranking export values as a percentage of the Metro GDP Greater Richmond was 71st. Direct-export jobs accounted for 18,700 positions while exported-supported jobs accounted for 37,800 positions.

On June 12, 2014, Business First will unveil the Greater Richmond Export Initiative during a kick-off event open to the public. Content will be geared towards companies that are new to exports and companies already exporting but interested in exploring new markets. Representatives of all levels of government, university partners, private companies, and export service providers will take part in relaying to firms the significance and ease of exploring exports. Following the kick-off, GRP will begin to roll-out an ongoing training and awareness campaign to build on the momentum of our initial efforts.

For more information about the Greater Richmond Export Initiative or kick-off event, please contact Bethany Miller at or (804) 343-6968.

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