YSU, Chamber lead 10-county international trade effort

Jan 14, 2015
The Valley’s economy is poised to reach new levels beginning this month when Youngstown State University, the Youngstown/Warren Regional Chamber and eight other economic development organizations in a 10-county, two-state region launch a global trade initiative.

YOUNGSTOWN – The Valley’s economy is poised to reach new levels beginning this month when Youngstown State University, the Youngstown/Warren Regional Chamber and eight other economic development organizations in a 10-county, two-state region launch a global trade initiative.

The OH-PA Stateline Export Initiative is the culmination of six months of planning spearheaded by YSU’s International Trade Assistance Center and the Regional Chamber. The two organizations decided to meld their international trade efforts to create a worldwide trade strategy that would turn the Valley into a more formidable economic engine.  

YSU’s International Trade Assistance Center and the Regional Chamber brought economic development leaders from Ashtabula, Trumbull, Mahoning and Columbiana counties in Ohio, and Erie, Crawford, Mercer, Lawrence, Beaver and Butler counties in Pennsylvania into the fold. They plan to kick off the OH-PA Stateline Export Initiative this month with a survey of all manufacturers within the 10-county area to potentially be followed by a retention and expansion visit.

“We’re continually contacted by national and international companies looking to partner with manufacturers in the Valley,’’ said Sarah Boyarko, Regional Chamber Vice President of Economic Development, North America. “Information gathered in the survey will enable us to do a better job. We can no longer be fragmented; we must be proactive and organized. The creation of this plan will help us get there.”  

The Chamber is the Valley’s lead economic development agency.

The Valley garnered international acclaim recently when it made Global Trade magazine’s “Best Cities for Global Trade” report and when the TechBelt Initiative received the International Economic Development Council’s Bronze Award for 2013.   

YSU, likewise, achieved global stature this year when the Youngstown Business Incubator was named the best university-based incubator in the world and the U.S. News and World Report placed the school’s undergraduate engineering program among the top 25 percent in the world.

“This export plan, which covers a 10-county area in two states, has a potential to fuel the overall economic development by taking advantage of the global trends and build on the momentum of leading this area from global orientation to global fluency,” said Mousa H. Kassis, adviser for the International Trade Assistance Center and Instructor of Economics at YSU.

“Collaboration, market intelligence, realistic export plan and mechanism for implementation are crucial ingredients for success in the global market,” Kassis added. “I am proud to say that the enthusiastic collaboration from all 22 steering committee members will make it happen.”   

The Valley previously reached the following international trade milestones:
 
-It leads the nation in exports growth, Business Facilities Magazine announced in September. The Valley exported more than $4.7 billion in goods, which was a 22 percent increase from 2009 to 2012.  

-It is ranked No. 5 in the U.S. in exports recovery, according to Business Facilities. It is estimated that the Youngstown-Warren metro area exports approximately one-quarter of its goods worldwide.

-It leads the country in export growth percentage from 2009-2012, the Brookings Institute announced in December of 2013. From 2009 through 2012 there was a 22-percent increase in exports in the region, with approximately $1.2 billion of additional goods being exported worldwide.

The OH-PA Stateline Export Initiative will build on this momentum, Boyarko said.  

“With an existing cross-border relationship with several Pennsylvania counties, it makes sense,” Boyarko said.