"We don't try to replicate what other organizations are doing. We try very hard to be the missing piece."
The mission of WTC Savannah is the same as any economic development organization - to attract investment and create jobs for local communities. They have 16 county development authority partners that invest in WTC on an annual basis. "Our partnerships are what we're most excited about," explains Brynn Grant, Vice President of WTC Savannah. "We primarily do two things. We help regional businesses grow internationally, helping them find resources and understand how to expand globally, and we also identify foreign investment projects that could land in the region."
There are over 300 World Trade Centers located around the world, each one licensed and operated by individual organizations. The WTC Association was started in the early 1960s in partnership with the New York and New Jersey port authorities. There was a clear opportunity to take what they had accomplished there and explore the concept of real estate development with a focus on trade and global expansion.
The Savannah World Trade Center got its start in 2012 as an arm of the Savannah Economic Development Authority (SEDA). SEDA realized that the WTC license was the best way to impact investment for the region and the most efficient way to connect globally. Since then, they have hosted over 800 international delegates.
"Like anything else, it's a relationship business," says Leigh Ryan, Director of Trade Services and Foreign-Trade Zone 104. "The more involvement we have in the WTC Association, the better our connections will be. We are lucky that right now our chairman, Scott Center, sits on their international board. That's a huge asset to our region."
"The Georgia Department of Economic Development and Georgia Power do an amazing job, but no one team can do it all," says Brynn. "We're one piece of the puzzle. We don't try to replicate what other organizations are doing; we try very hard to be the missing piece." One of the first things WTC Savannah implemented were global education programs that hadn't been offered in this part of the state before. "We're educating regional companies on business aspects like currency, importing, trade services, research, B2B business matching, and international product sourcing," adds Leigh Ryan.
Jason Coley serves as the region's community development manager via Georgia Power's economic development group. "WTC Savannah has expertise on international business that other communities don't have. Just getting to meet with some of those businesses face to face wouldn't be possible without their work," says Jason. "Bringing international representatives to Savannah for meetings makes a big difference and literally opens a world of opportunity to the state of Georgia."
"We are the development authority's international staff. We can sit at the table, coach them, do research or translation work- anything we can do to help them court that company the best they can. We want all our communities to shine. Our communities and businesses can call upon us and know that we'll make sure they're ready to put their best foot forward," Leigh explains.
For more information on World Trade Center Savannah, visit them at https://www.wtcsavannah.org/.