RICHMOND – The Virginia Economic Development Partnership (VEDP) announced today the official release of the Metro Richmond Exports Initiative (MREI), a unique collaborative effort to increase exports for small and medium-sized businesses in the Richmond metro area. The MREI brings together businesses and local, state and regional officials, including VEDP’s International Trade Division, Virginia Commonwealth University’s Center for Urban and Regional Analysis, the Greater Richmond Partnership, Virginia’s Gateway Region, JPMorgan Chase and the Brookings Institution’s Global Cities Initiative. Richmond is the first Metropolitan Statistical Area in the Commonwealth to organize a formal export initiative.

“The Commonwealth is pleased to support this collaborative global initiative in the Richmond area,” said Secretary of Commerce and Trade Todd Haymore. “With more than 90 percent of the world’s customers living outside the U.S., it is imperative that we promote Virginia’s world-class products and services to international customers. Thanks to Virginia’s international trade programs, we are able to support our small and medium-sized businesses that may not have the capacity to market their products internationally on their own. I thank everyone who was involved in supporting this project, and I look forward to seeing great results from this collaborative export initiative.”

The goal of the MREI is to increase exports from small and medium-sized Richmond area businesses by 40 percent by 2020.  In collaboration with Virginia’s existing international trade programs and staff, the MREI will assist area companies in becoming more familiar with exporting as a business strategy and navigating the services available in the region. MREI projects include developing an “Exporting 101” curriculum, connecting potential exporters with experienced exporters and service providers, and providing export-related grant funding.

“We look forward to working together with the MREI partners to get Richmond metro area companies into international markets,” said Paul Grossman, Managing Director, International Trade. “This joint initiative will help our existing businesses grow and ultimately bring revenue and jobs back to the Commonwealth.”

A website dedicated to the MREI will be under construction soon. In the meantime, interested parties can connect with the Greater Richmond Partnership (www.grpva.com) or Virginia’s Gateway Region (www.gatewayregion.com) for more information.