Mark Byrnes

A newly formed council hopes to make L.A.'s access to other markets more profitable for local companies

This week, The Atlantic Cities has partnered with the Brookings-Rockefeller Project on State and Metropolitan Innovation to explore local solutions to national problems. You can find the rest of the series here.

In March 2010, President Obama established a National Export Initiative to help American companies meet the administration’s goal of doubling U.S. exports by 2015.

Why focus on boosting exports? In a word: jobs. Because every $1 billion in exported goods and services supports roughly 5,400 jobs, an increase in American exports would bring much needed job creation to communities throughout the U.S.

Even as the federal government moves to increase exports, regional leaders from the public, private and academic worlds are taking action to foster higher levels of exports in their areas. Los Angeles has pledged to do its part through the newly established Los Angeles Regional Export Council (LARExC). Housed in the Los Angeles Area Chamber of Commerce, this public-private partnership aims to double regional export levels in five years by expanding access to export training and market research, streamlining export services, and providing networking opportunities for export-ready companies in twelve key industries. [Full disclosure: The Brookings-Rockefeller Project on State and Metropolitan Innovation provided some advisory support to LARExC before it launched.]

“We in Los Angeles are not waiting for Washington to create jobs,” says Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa. “We are launching the Los Angeles Regional Export Council to help local businesses find the export assistance they need to grow their businesses and create new jobs.”

The Los Angeles region has a number of strengths when it comes to exports. With established connections to Asian and Latin American economies on the Pacific Rim and infrastructure to move freight by land, sea and air, it’s little wonder that the region is second only to the New York City metro area when it comes to total exports by dollar value. LARExC aims to build upon these assets by creating a regional export support network that connects area firms to local, state and federal services.

Export-ready companies looking to enter new markets often need some extra help at first; this is especially true of smaller firms, which often lack the resources and know-how needed to begin exporting. LARExC’s MBA Export Champions program, a joint effort of the USC Marshall School of Business and the UCLA Anderson School of Management, aims to support new-to-export and new-to-market firms through this transition by connecting companies with local MBA students, who will provide market research as well as export plan development assistance. In addition, the Export Trade Assistance Program, administered through the state community college system, offers workshops to business executives interested in learning the basics of exporting.

“When companies in L.A. tap into opportunities overseas,” says Los Angeles Chamber Senior Vice President Carlos Valderrama, “it presents an opportunity for job creation and economic growth.” By improving the quality, availability and coordination of export support services, LARExC hopes to ensure that export-ready firms in the region can get the assistance they need to compete in the global marketplace, strengthening the regional economy in the process.

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