(photo credit:Jason Holmberg)
International trade and exports are big business for the Los Angeles region. The ports of Long Beach and Los Angeles together make up the nation’s busiest cargo complex. Alone, the Long Beach port is the second busiest container port in the nation. It saw a dramatic increase in cargo earlier this year.
So, it’s no surprise that the nearby Center for International Trade Development (CITD) at Long Beach City College is doing what it can to help the region thrive.
“The federal government looks at us and they salivate at the L.A. network because we cover a region that covers L.A., Ventura and Santa Barbara Counties,” said Jesse Torres, Director of the L.A. Regional Small Business Development Network at LBCC. “Where else can you find three ports [Long Beach, L.A., Port Hueneme] in LA? The region is so diverse.”
The CITD applied for and was recently awarded a $300,000 grant from the U.S. Commerce Department’s International Trade Administration to expand exports of U.S. health and beauty products to Brazil, China and the Persian Gulf region and support job creation in California.
“Long Beach City College’s dedication to serving the business needs of regional and statewide companies is exemplified by the U.S. Commerce Department’s award to our Center for International Trade Development,” said Lou Anne Bynum, Executive Vice President of College Advancement and Economic Development. “These funds will take the growth of American health and beauty businesses to the international level.”
Despite a global economic downturn, U.S. exports hit an all-time record of $2.2 trillion last year, as reported by U.S. Under Secretary of Commerce for International Trade, Francisco Sanchez.
The grant money will allow the CITD program at the college to increase exports by training small-to-medium enterprises (SMEs) to enter three foreign emerging markets and facilitate trade missions.
“The money will help in two ways,” said Cesar Arellanes, Director CITD, “We will be training the companies in all the issues that the industry faces when they’re trying to build their brand. So training is focused on everything from pricing to distribution, brand building, working with distributors, finding distributors, and how to do a trade show successfully.”
“The second part is actually going to trade shows–utilizing the California beauty brand to get them better exposure in front of other buyers.”
There are about 600 companies in California’s health and beauty sector, made up by a large number of SMEs, which produce more than 1,500 cosmetic and toiletry brands and employ 287,750 in the state.
“It’s interesting. One of the things that we found through a study that was done by Price Waterhouse and Coopers showed that, within the beauty industry in the U.S., 90 percent of the companies who are manufacturers and distributors are small to medium sized companies, meaning under 50 employees. Out of those, 70 percent are under ten employees,” said Arellanes.
“Health and beauty is what job creation is all about and it’s manufacturing jobs. We’re talking about people who are creating American made products, hiring local. Our legislators understand the importance of this industry to the state, to our economy,” said Torres.
By engaging and establishing partnerships between trade show organizers and U.S. industry associates, CITD-LBCC will provide the framework for long-term sustainability by increasing and sustaining exports by $82 million over a seven-year period.
“The funding really helps us carry on and continue the work we’ve been doing and expand it to provide the training needed in the exports business and it does it for the next three years,” said Arellanes.
Keeping California competitive in the global marketplace is the goal of the California Economic Summit. Partnerships between the public and private sector, like the one between the export industry and LBCC, will be crucial for the region going forward. Action Teams have been busy working on seven Signature Initiatives believed to be roadmaps in order to make all of the state’s regions successful and allowing the entire Golden State to shine once again.