The Case for A World Trade Center in Indianapolis

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In January, I announced that upon leaving office as Indiana's Attorney General that I would chair a group seeking to bring a World Trade Center to Indiana, located in Indianapolis. Joining me in this effort are two former public servants, Doris Anne Sadler and Travis Spotts, who are serving as president and executive director of the WTC Indianapolis bid, respectively.

We have received tremendous initial support and encouragement from those who understand how Indiana's economy benefits from international trade and foreign investment. Already, we have attended a worldwide gathering of the World Trade Centers Association in Las Vegas and subsequently been invited to and presented at an innovation conference in Chengdu, China. A fact-finding trip to Trieste, Italy is underway. These opportunities are generating new business-to-business leads and connections even at this early stage.

As more people recognize the tremendous opportunity a licensed, Indiana-based World Trade Center represents, the more momentum builds for this economy-catalyzing organization. But what is a World Trade Center and why is it important? Why are smart global players such as Governor Holcomb and Mayor Hogsett focusing on international trade and embracing our effort?  

Let's start with some facts that help explain the need for a WTC, beginning with the fact that Indianapolis is the fourth largest U.S. city without one.  We can change that.  Further, the continued growth of our manufacturing, agricultural and technology industries are highly dependent on international trade.  Mature and rapidly developing economies outside the United States possess 80 percent of the world’s purchasing power and 95 percent of the world’s population.  Indiana's international trade accounts for more than 800,000 jobs statewide, roughly 20 percent of our total employment and represents one of the fastest growing sectors with high paying jobs.  From 2005-2015, the value of Indiana exports increased nearly $7.6 billion, ranking us 15th out of 50 states.  We can change that, too.

Many people associate a World Trade Center with a building, which we do hope to see as part of the Indianapolis skyline one day.  But, a WTC is much more than a physical address:  A licensed WTC Indianapolis will play a significant role in expanding and accelerating trade, investment and employment across the Hoosier State.  It is an essential gateway to economic opportunity in foreign markets, especially for small to medium-sized manufacturers.

WTC Indianapolis will allow Hoosiers to connect to a global network of more than 300 such centers in 90 countries around the world.  It will provide trade contacts and services, breaking down the barriers for those companies which lack either the knowledge, experience or contacts to exploit (in the best possible sense) economic opportunities overseas.

Governor Holcomb and Mayor Hogsett have each focused on the importance of global trade to our economy and the business community has rallied to support their efforts.  Opening new markets and attracting global capital is essential for economic growth and I would argue that having a WTC Indianapolis is therefore an essential tool for our state’s economic future.

Greg Zoeller, Indiana's former attorney general, is chair of WTC Indy.

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