The Annual General Assembly (GA) is the premiere event for the World Trade Centers Association (WTCA). Held in a different global region each year, it provides the host with an opportunity to showcase all that its home city has to offer. The 2019 GA was held in Querétaro, Mexico, a robust and growing economy in the region, and a demonstration of the increasing opportunities offered in Mexico and across Latin America. And while the General assembly is a WTCA event, with the exception of some programming the majority of the agenda is planned and executed by the host-WTC team. In 2019 WTCA Members were treated to an in-depth view of what Querétaro has to offer for businesses, and a demonstration of the rich and diverse cultural heritage of the city and region.
After a brief welcome from the host, day one of the event focused on WTCA business, including the Board Plenary when the Board and the Chairs of its committees report to all of Membership on their activities and priorities since the previous GA. The program also included a discussion of Headquarters activities, led by Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Scott Ferguson, who detailed major accomplishments and the fact that 2018 was the first in five years when the organization had an operating profit.
Member Advisory Council (MAC) Chairs Ed Allison-Wright (WTC Gibraltar), Virginie Blida (WTC Lille), Linda Conlin (WTC Greater Philadelphia), Pamela Pascual (WTC Manila), and Cheryl Smith (WTC Las Vegas) presented on the joint Member projects their respective MACs are currently undertaking. At only one-year-old, the MACs are fast becoming critical conduits for networking and collaboration, as well as network innovation.
The year-long 50th Anniversary campaign took center stage as it was officially kicked off in Querétaro, and Board elections were also held. The organization welcomed an incoming class of Directors that included some new faces, as well as existing Board Members returning for another term (see Spotlight on page 14 for full details).
A major highlight of the program on Monday also included a presentation by Moyo Nua—a student-led company from Ireland—which invented a seed planter for use in developing nations in Africa. The group was unanimously selected as the World Trade Centers Association Foundation (WTCAF) inaugural “Peace Through Trade” Competition winners, and was presented as such at the GA. Their invention accomplishes two critical objectives. First, it reduces physical injury and strain on workers, which helps productivity and health, and second, sales of the product provide the re-investment of funds into educations programs that help young people move beyond agrarian jobs and opportunities (for more information, see the official WTCAF press release here).
The next two days were entitled the “Innovation, Technology and Sustainability” (ITS) Summit, opened by Querétaro’s Governor Francisco Domínguez Servién, which offered workshops and presentations that both illustrated the opportunities in Querétaro, and covered key topics. From Member-run sessions on key programs or sectors, to those on USMCA, global health issues, innovative sustainable-energy solutions and visits to companies such as Bombardier and General Electric, the event promised something for everyone, including Business-to-Business (B2B) opportunities for visiting delegations. And to that end, multiple WTCs traveled with delegations who had interests in the region and area industries, and sought to explore new opportunities via the WTCA network (see Member Perspective page 16 for one detailed account).
Finally, as with all WTCA events, the agenda provided ample opportunities for active networking and collaboration—including meetings for each of the WTCA’s Member Advisory Councils—and plenty of social interaction. From a Welcome Reception, to a cocktail party at the Modern Art Museum and of course, the Gala Dinner on the closing evening, there was no shortage of time to connect with fellow WTCA Members.
As with all GAs, the event closed with the official “Passing of the Goble,” when the host city closes the event with a hand-off to the next WTCA Member to host the event. After a brief gift ceremony to hosting WTC Querétaro, WTC Taipei’s President and CEO, Walter Yeh accepted the responsibility with a promise to provide WTCA delegates with another stellar event to remember. Stay tuned for further updates and keep an eye out for communications on that event next year, slated for March 1-4, 2020—it is a must-attend event as we conclude the celebration of WTCA’s 50th Anniversary!