By Mindy Ruffalo, Director of International Economic Development
The Chamber’s International Economic Development team has been covering a lot of ground lately, putting frequent flier miles and passports to work to strengthen our regional economy.
Here’s a snapshot of what we’ve been focusing on recently:
Our busy June included a trip to the 2017 SelectUSA Investment Summit in Washington, D.C. One of the biggest events dedicated to promoting foreign direct investment in the United States, attendance allowed us to identify and start building relationships with foreign companies considering business expansion or greenfield investment in Greater Omaha.
Also in June, we helped host a delegation of seven young political leaders from Israel. Omaha and Israel have relationships and commonalities between industries, and we see a lot of opportunities for us to strengthen trade and work together, especially through technology startups. With that in mind, we took the young leaders on a tour of The Startup Collaborative, a multi-faceted program of the Greater Omaha Chamber founded to radically improve the odds of startup success in our region.
Members of the International Economic Development team boarded a plane for Toronto in August to participate in the Governor’s first official trade mission to Canada.
Developing deeper relations with Canada is good for Omaha and good for the state – and the numbers help explain why.
Canada is Nebraska’s largest export market and fourth-largest agricultural export market. Beef products are Nebraska’s number one agricultural export to Canada, totaling $138.2 million in 2015. Pork is Nebraska third highest agricultural export to Canada, with $61.3 million in exports.
While in Toronto, we participated in a roundtable discussion with the U.S. Consul General for Toronto and underscored our shared commitment to promoting trade and keeping a strong relationship with Canada, especially in industries such as technology, agriculture and financial services.
We joined another of the Governor’s trade missions in September – this time to Japan, where we also attended the 49th Annual U.S. Midwest Japan Conference in Tokyo. As with many of our involvements, relationship-building and strengthening is key. (Japan is Nebraska’s largest trading partner abroad and largest foreign direct investor.) Our trip included meetings with prospective businesses and “thank-you visits” to Japanese companies already invested in our region. We also made a stop in Shizuoka, Omaha’s first sister – a relationship that began more than 50 years ago.
Omaha will host 50th annual U.S. Midwest Japan Conference next September. The event is expected to attract 500 Japanese and Midwest government officials, business leaders and economic developers.
It was a busy summer for the International Economic Development team – a lot of time spent promoting the benefits of our region to the global community. We look forward to keeping the momentum going throughout the fall and winter.