Governor Terry McAuliffe announced today the creation of the Virginia International Trade Alliance (VITAL), a new initiative managed by the Virginia Economic Development Partnership (VEDP) that will increase international trade in Virginia. VITAL expands the Commonwealth’s nationally recognized international trade program via formal partnerships with Virginia’s public universities, industry associations and the Virginia Chamber of Commerce to serve their member companies as they expand international sales.
Speaking at today’s announcement at an event in Richmond, Governor McAuliffe said, “As we continue to recruit new businesses to the Commonwealth, we also need to help our existing businesses export their goods and services. International trade is a key part of my plan to create private sector jobs and build a new Virginia economy that is less reliant on the federal government. This new VITAL initiative demonstrates the Commonwealth’s commitment to helping existing Virginia businesses succeed in the international marketplace, making our economy even stronger.”
“Helping Virginia businesses sell their manufactured goods and services abroad is one of our most effective business expansion strategies, and this initiative is designed to do just that,” said Virginia Secretary of Commerce and Trade Maurice Jones. “The Commonwealth exported over $36 billion in manufactured goods and services in 2014. VITAL will exponentially accelerate Virginia companies’ engagement with the global economy, resulting in stronger, more resilient businesses and more jobs for Virginians.”
VITAL will build upon Virginia’s proven export assistance programs, including tailored market research, face-to-face meetings with qualified partners overseas, and VEDP’s award-winning Virginia Leaders in Export Trade (VALET) Program. In 2014-2015, VEDP International Trade took 176 companies on trade missions across the globe to find customers in new international markets. Governor McAuliffe has made the program a priority and reallocated $1 million toward the initiative through flexibility granted to him in the state budget.
As partners to VITAL, Virginia’s public universities will identify companies with international business as a corporate strategy and conduct international research to position these companies for global expansion. VITAL partners in its initial year include:
- Virginia Chamber of Commerce
- Virginia Manufacturers Association
- Virginia Maritime Association
- Northern Virginia Technology Council
- Christopher Newport University
- William & Mary
- James Madison University
- George Mason University
- Old Dominion University
- University of Mary Washington
- Virginia Commonwealth University
- Virginia Military Institute
- Virginia Tech
Goals for VITAL include:
- Growing Virginia exports by $1.6 billion in five years.
- Creating 14,000 trade-supported jobs in five years.
- Increasing the number of companies enrolled in VEDP’s international trade programs to serve 390 companies per year.
“VEDP is delighted to continue promoting Virginia companies’ growth in international markets through this important VITAL initiative,” said VEDP President and CEO Martin Briley. “Our International Trade program is one of the nation’s top-rated international export development programs. Finding new business from international markets is a proven economic development model, and we are confident that VITAL will grow Virginia exports and create new, valuable jobs to strengthen the economy.”
“In 1992, one in ten jobs in Virginia was tied to trade,” said Barry DuVal, President and CEO of the Virginia Chamber of Commerce. “In 2013, it was nearly one in four. The VITAL program promises to open up new markets abroad for Virginia goods and services that will create more good-paying jobs here in the Commonwealth. The Virginia Chamber of Commerce, representing more than 22,600 businesses, is pleased to be a partner in this program and looks forward to working to make it a success.”
“The Virginia Manufacturers Association is committed to expanding manufacturing exports 50% by 2025,” said Brett Vassey, President & CEO of the Virginia Manufacturers Association. “VITAL is an integral resource for small and medium companies to expand their export sales and open new markets for existing industries. We are proud to be a partner.”
“Promoting trade through Virginia’s ports is central to the mission of the Virginia Maritime Association,” said Art Moye, Executive Vice President, Virginia Maritime Association. “Through VITAL we’ll be able to help the companies we deal with increase their international sales and move more goods through our ports. The VITAL initiative is a demonstration of the Commonwealth’s commitment to helping Virginia companies increase their exports and exposure to international markets and we’re pleased to be part of it.”
“Diversification remains a critical mission for everyone involved in economic development,” said John Provo, Director, Office of Economic Development at Virginia Tech. “We see this not just in Northern Virginia and Hampton Roads, but in our work across Virginia. That is why we are pleased to be a part of the VITAL program assisting companies in reaching new markets.”
The Virginia Economic Development Partnership (VEDP), a marketing organization, was created by the Virginia General Assembly in 1995 to encourage, stimulate and support the development and expansion of the economy of the Commonwealth. VEDP is a state authority, which is governed by a 24-member Board of Directors appointed by the Governor and the Virginia General Assembly. To accomplish its objectives of promoting economic expansion within the Commonwealth, VEDP focuses its efforts on business recruitment, expansion and international trade. VEDP has offices in Virginia, the United Kingdom, Germany, India, China and Japan.