World commerce is part of our valley |

World commerce is part of our valley

Michael Robinson
Vail, CO, Colorado

We’ve all heard the reports: “The trade deficit widens” or “the trade deficit shrinks.” But do we ever stop to think how the national trade environment impacts our local business community?

During President Bush’s recent visit to Wall Street, he talked about the importance of trade to our local economy, the need for “Trade Promotion Authority” to be extended this summer and the need to level the playing field around the world for American business by formalizing free-trade agreements and opening up new markets to American products and services. Trade is a hot topic for the business community. But why should every Vail Valley business owner care about international trade?

Our destination is a product that is marketed and sold not only along the Front Range and in our key markets of New York, Chicago and Dallas, but around the world. People from Luxembourg to Dubai know us.

Living in a world-recognized destination, the businesses that make up this valley should transcend international boundaries as well. All businesses should think of themselves as players in the new global economy. Those that will be successful in the years ahead will have to rethink their strategies and embrace the world markets that will dictate their success. Speaking to the bottom-line, trade brings prosperity, not only corporate prosperity, but social prosperity as well.

So how can international trade be encouraged in a community like ours? The conference I attended this week, the Second Annual TradeRoots Best Practices Summit in partnership with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, discussed this issue.

Surprisingly, a lot can be done locally to get on the international playing field.

TradeRoots is the only national trade education program dedicated to raising support and awareness about the importance of international trade to local communities. The organization also supports individual opportunity, something the valley holds in high regard as well.

I have been a part of the TradeRoots effort since 2001 and know firsthand how it can positively affect a local economy like ours and how it can inspire new thinking and new success from businesses large and small.

By attending this conference, which drew trade and international business-development executives from around the country, the Vail Valley Partnership made it known that this valley is ready compete in the global game. To the Partnership, this means ensuring the Vail Valley has the resources to capitalize on international opportunities as well as spotting possible obstacles.

As the Partnership develops its new personality and character, look for new alliances with the U.S. Chamber, the U.S. Department of Commerce, the Small Business Association and the Export-Import Bank of the United States to play key roles in helping our local businesses to explore new opportunities.

Here’s a real life example: This month many local lodges have reported an influx of South American visitors from Brazil, Argentina and Chile, more this season than in the past. It’s also no secret many of the valley’s workers have foreign passports. What does this indicate? Our brand (our valley) is being sold and promoted overseas. Competing on the global scale is not an option, it is a necessity.

A necessity, yes. But daunting? No. Remember, the road to international trade begins locally.

Do you think trade is only for the corporate sharks? Think again. Of the nearly 4,500 Colorado businesses that sell their products overseas, nearly 86 percent are small and medium-size companies.

Do you think trade takes away jobs? Think again. The businesses in Colorado that sell their products overseas all employ Coloradans. And when you think about market share ” only five percent of the worlds consumers reside in the United States ” the products, services and amenities of Colorado and the Vail Valley need only penetrate a small portion of the remaining 95 percent for our local economy to realize a terrific boom.

So we hope you embrace the international business-development efforts of the Partnership in months and years to come. We are here to lead you to the resources, information and support you need to compete. Soon, an economic development committee and government affairs committee will be formed as part of the Partnership. Both committees will work hand-in-hand to make international trade less of a dream and more of a reality. Let this article be a wake-up call and a call to action. And to those already in international waters, here’s to smooth sailing. We’re all in this boat together.

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