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World Trade Center Savannah helping put area on map for global business

World Trade Center Savannah chairman Scott Center accepted congratulations from his board Tuesday on being elected to the World Trade Center’s international board of directors, but quickly pointed out that it was the local organization’s reputation that put him there.

“They didn’t elect Scott Center,” he said. “They elected the World Trade Center Savannah, which in just a few short years has become known internationally as one of the organization’s most active and successful members.

“That’s because of all of you and your commitment.”

A seat on the international board, whose members represent such nations and cities as Qatar, Accra in Ghana, Istanbul, Cyprus, Paris, Beirut, Mumbai, Sao Paula, Winnipeg in Canada, Beijing and The Hague, as well as Boston, Miami and Utah, puts Savannah on a new level and gives it the influence to help shape the organization for the better, Center said.

The timing couldn’t be better, he said.

“With Air Canada beginning direct flights from Toronto to Savannah next month, we are truly becoming an international city,” he said, adding that he has invited the chairman of World Trade Center Toronto to come down on the inaugural flight.

“This opens up so many doors,” he said. “And it’s not just in Canada, which is by far our largest trading partner.

“Toronto is a gateway to the world – this will provide a lot more access for our region to the world and for the world to us.”

An example of those kind of connections is Duraco Windows & Doors of Winnepeg, a company looking to expand into the Southeast U.S. that is now exploring the possibility of moving into the Savannah area, said Brynn Grant, WTC Savannah vice president.

“They’re hoping to find a partner who knows our market to work with them here,” she said, asking the board to let WTC Savannah staff know if they know of an individual or business that might be interested in such an opportunity.

“Our new Air Canada connection really set this in motion,” Grant said.

In other business, Grant reported on the Savannah Gateway Regional Showcase, in which World Trade Center Savannah and partner Georgia Power hosts a delegation from a potential trading partner for the Savannah Music Festival.

This year, the invitees came from the Wexford County Development Authority in Ireland.

“We really focused on economic development professionals and lead-generating people and businesses,” she said, noting that the Wexford County group was excited to learn about the cultural and family connections between Savannah and Wexford.

The group toured the old Kehoe Iron Works, founded by William Kehoe, a son of Wexford. The ironworks site is currently under renovation by Charles Morris.

The history that connects the two cities has been brought into sharp focus in the last several years as Georgia Southern University professor Howard Keeley began the Wexford-Savannah Axis, an innovative research and heritage outreach project that chronicles the historic links between the two regions.

Among the group’s discoveries are business connections that go back centuries.

For example, in the archives of William Graves and Sons, a long-defunct Irish shipping company, Keeley and his students discovered a letter addressed to the company owner, detailing “the advantages of sailing into Savannah” from none other than Savannah’s leading 19th-century cotton factor, Andrew Low.

“Andrew Low wrote Mr. Graves regularly, updating him on everything from the price of rice and cotton to Savannah’s mild climate,” Keeley told the board.

Once that link was discovered, Irish Minister Paul Kehoe, a descendant of William Kehoe, brought the Wexford County Council to Savannah for St. Patrick’s Day 2016, determined to re-establish and grow those business connections.

To that end, WTC Savannah last year added Ireland to its short list of target countries for economic development.

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Licensed just a little more than five years ago, World Trade Center Savannah has already distinguished itself among the 300-plus WTC associations across the globe for its world-class services in helping area companies expand internationally as well as selling the region to foreign companies looking to invest.

WTC offers export seminar for food, agriculture companies

World Trade Center Savannah will host “Expanding into International Markets,” an export seminar for food and agriculture companies from 1-5 p.m. April 27 at World Trade Center Savannah, 131 Hutchinson Island Road, Savannah.

Sponsored by the Southern United States Trade Association and Georgia Department of Economic Development, the seminar will cover such topics as international marketing budgets, foreign market research, evaluating export markets, finding your international market, Georgia’s international trade services and finding export assistance and resources in Georgia.

The program is free of charge, although registration is required.

Southern United States Trade Association is a non-profit funded by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Foreign Agricultural Service and is comprised of the Department of Agriculture of the 15 Southern states.