A new pilot program connecting the Savannah area and Ireland for international trade and investment is up and running. Called TradeBridge, the program was announced in mid-March by its partners, the World Trade Center Savannah (WTCSav), the Savannah Economic Development Authority and the county of Wexford, Ireland.
As part of the program both Savannah and the county of Wexford each hired a person devoted to business and trade development.
Alison Stone Thompson of Wexford has been hired for Wexford’s side of the partnership. Savannah’s Trey Rossiter is the development advisor located here. Thompson has been in Savannah for a week, along with a number of Wexford officials, including the chairman of the county council, and the mayor.
“This is the beginning of the culmination of a lot of action and a lot of activity,” Trip Tollison, president and CEO of SEDA said of the hirings. “We are not only working to create a fantastic, superb, wonderful alliance with Wexford, we’re putting our money where our mouth is and we’ve hired two great people.”
Savannah area companies and those in Wexford who want to do business internationally, are now a quick call or email away from starting the process.
“To have someone on the ground in Wexford (or Savannah) who knows the players and knows how to get things done is extraordinary,” Tollison said. “We’ve never done anything like this before.”
TradeBridge is designed for established businesses big and small. Rossiter said that 60 percent of companies in Georgia that are now exporting have fewer than 100 employees.
“And of those, the majority have fewer than 20,” Rossiter said, “Size doesn’t matter.”
What does matter is the company be established -- and ambitious. “It’s ambition, the product fit and getting the right market,” Rossiter said. “We bring tools to the table the companies otherwise might not have access to. ”Thompson said TradeBridge is a great way for a business to take advantage of expertise.
TradeBridge is not only about Savannah and Wexford, Rossiter and Thompson said.
“This is a clear stepping stone into the European market as a whole,” Rossiter said. “The Irish companies can consider Savannah a foothold, establishing a presence in the U.S. market,” Rossiter said.
Thompson said with Brexit approaching ambitious companies in Ireland are looking for new markets. “We will soon be the only English speaking member of the European Union,” Thompson said.
The TradeBridge and WTCSav teams are at the ready and encourage area businesses to reach out. “You’ve got a free service right here at their disposal,” Tollison said.
To contact either Rossiter or Thompson you can email them at firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com. You can also contact SEDA at 912-447-8450.
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Pictured above Trey Rossiter and Alison Stone Thompson