Leveraging existing programs is central to the administration’s strategy for improving California’s global trade competitiveness, according to the recently named senior international adviser at the Governor’s Office of Business and Economic Development (GO-Biz).
Bud Colligan, named GO-Biz senior adviser for international affairs and trade in March, reviewed his activities over the last few months at the international breakfast meeting of the California Chamber of Commerce Council for International Trade on September 6.
The breakfast was sponsored by the Automobile Club of Southern California.
“Trade matters to all Californians,” Colligan pointed out, noting that with increasing interconnections in the global economy, 1 in 5 California jobs today depends on international trade, versus 1 in 10 jobs 20 years ago.
Although California continues to lead the nation in trade, he said, it has been losing share in exports and foreign direct investment (FDI).
The GO-Biz trade team has been expanding and will soon include specialists focusing on the Americas, Asia and Europe. In addition, there is strong international expertise in the office of Lieutenant Governor Eleni Kounalakis, a former ambassador and the Govenor’s designated lead on trade/investment matters.
Colligan noted that local and regional economic development organizations and private groups were among programs that made sure California maintained an international presence when budget cutbacks in 2004 led to state government reducing its efforts.
As the state works to grow California exports and FDI, Colligan said, it will be aiming to improve its partnerships with organizations such as SelectUSA and U.S. Commercial Services, and to leverage programs like California Opportunity Zones, the California Competes Tax Credit program (which also is open to international investors), California Business Investment Services, local governments, local chambers of commerce, economic development corporations, and private sector groups.
His office also has worked to improve communications, featuring an upgraded international website, a monthly international newsletter, and monthly conference calls to keep economic development organizations up-to-date on what is happening around the state.
Recognizing the importance of trade infrastructure—airports, ports and travel corridors—GO-Biz is playing a supporting role, Colligan said. His office is working with the Sustainable Freight Program to coordinate interagency work that has an impact on how goods are moved and regulated.
Noting that funding is critical to any effort to promote California trade and investment activities, Colligan said that the industry is exploring alternate funding models within the context of the Sustainable Freight Program, adopted by the state in 2016.