U.S. Mayor Article

Santa Ana Mayor Pulido's Vision Results in International Business Center

March 17, 2003


Build it, and they will come. Two years ago, this was the belief of city of Santa Ana Mayor Miguel Pulido in forming the International Business Center to serve the Orange County (CA) region. Understanding that international trade plays an important role in the growth of the local community was the first step in the vision to create a center to assist local businesses explore expanding their operations to foreign markets.

Terms such as "international trade" and the "global economy" are today's reality. As a result of advancements in technology, more democratized, open economies and trade agreements such as NAFTA, international trade directly affects people in every city in the country.

Domestically, international trade has a tremendous impact on the U.S. economy, accounting for one-third of the U.S. GDP. According to Department of Commerce figures, exports have supported 20 million jobs since the early 1990's, with one in every five manufacturing jobs being directly supported by exports.

Yet, while international trade greatly benefits the U.S. economy, few small and medium'sized companies engage in international commerce. Only 1 percent of small businesses in the U.S. export.

To create the International Business Center, Mayor Pulido set up a One-Stop center for international trade assistance that would serve the needs of local businesses, and also serve the entire Orange County area. With a $127 billion economy boasting over 60,000 businesses, Orange County ranks as the 32nd largest economy in the world, just ahead of Malaysia, Israel and Singapore.

A centralized location to address all of the needs of small business owners did not exist in Orange County.

The International Business Center promotes trade opportunities by bringing all available international business development and capital resources to one location. The Center is proud to serve as the exclusive host of the Mexico Trade Center, Mexico's headquarters for international trade in the Western United States, Nacional Financiera, Mexico's largest development bank, and the Japan External Trade Organization's Senior Trade Advisor for California. Additionally, the Center also partners with the U.S. Department of Commerce, the California Technology, Trade and Commerce Agency, the Export'Import Bank of the United States, the Small Business Administration, as well as numerous private enterprises, local chambers of commerce, and educational institutions such as the University of Southern California, UC Irvine and Cal State Fullerton.

Services provided by the Center include: export/import counseling, trade contacts, finance and insurance assistance, export/import seminars, marketing support for international and domestic trade shows, referrals to state and federal government trade support services, matchmaking with foreign business delegations and coordination of overseas trade missions.

Believing that if he built an International Business Center, people would come, Mayor Pulido set his heart to do just that. The catalyst to launch the business center was the Mexico Trade Center, which Mexican President Vicente Fox personally inaugurated along with U.S. Department of Commerce Secretary Donald Evans and California Governor Gray Davis. By anchoring it with Orange County and California's largest trade partner, the inauguration of the Mexico Trade Center at the International Business Center attracted other trade organizations and foreign governments to establish a presence at the Center as well. Most recently, the Japan External Trade Organization (JETRO) selected the International Business Center as its site to locate the JETRO Senior Trade Advisor (STA) for California. The JETRO STA covers the entire Western U.S., but will focus the majority of his attention and resources to the local economy of Santa Ana and Orange County.

Two years after its inauguration, the International Business Center now counts on the support of federal, state and local trade groups, leading academic institutions, financial corporations, and commercial operations from Mexico, Japan, the United Kingdom, and El Salvador. Discussions are underway with Spain, Korea and China and Columbia regarding their participation in the International Business Center.

The International Business Center is a grand, bold vision that that will help stimulate the local economy for years to come.

For more information, contact Santa Anna City Manager's Office at 714-647-6989.

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