Canada-U.S. Virtual Trade Mission

The first official TradeBuilders Virtual Trade MissionTM was hosted online between September 11, and November 16, 2000. It included women-owned companies that offer business services in Canada and the U.S. Future virtual trade missions will include both men and women-owned companies.

This pilot mission was organized in close cooperation with the U.S. Small Business Administration, along with the U.S. Department of Commerce; the Georgia Department of Industry, Trade and Tourism; the Canadian Consul General in Atlanta; Industry Canada; the Canadian Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade, and the Foundation of Canadian Women Entrepreneurs. Corporate clients and partners include The Coca-Cola Company, Delta Airlines, King & Spalding, Eastman Kodak, Polycom, Royal Bank of Canada, and UPS.

Objectives

The pilot's primary objectives were to test the virtual trade mission process and technology. The secondary objective was to offer participants access to new markets and networks, while increasing their trade readiness.

Activities

Virtual trade missionsTM use a proprietary process and mix of communication media (virtual meetings, videoconferencing, videostreaming, business-matching engines, online directories, website links, and email) to help participants build business relationships.

Mission participants had online access to:

  1. Business-matching
  2. Links to business and trade information
  3. Business coaching on steps-to-a-deal
  4. An international network of business owners
  5. Products and services offered by the organizers

A videoconference was hosted for participants, organizers, and sponsors who wanted to network at the midpoint of the mission from sites in Atlanta, Washington, DC, and New York in the U.S., and Ottawa and Toronto in Canada.

At the end of the mission, the TradeBuilders Virtual Trade MissionTM Deal Signing Ceremony was hosted at King & Spalding, a prestigious law firm in Atlanta, Georgia, on Thursday, November 16, 2000, and was co-hosted with the Georgia Department of Industry, Trade and Tourism. Congratulatory comments were offered by:

  1. Michael J. Egan III, Partner at King & Spalding, and head of their Corporate Division
  2. Carlos Martel, Deputy Commissioner of the Georgia Department of Industry, Trade and Tourism, and responsible for Trade
  3. Astrid Pregel, the Canadian Consul General in Atlanta, responsible for the Southeastern states
  4. Sherrye Henry, Associate Administrator of the U.S. Small Business Administration's Office of Women's Business Ownership
  5. Elizabeth Sears, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Domestic Operations in the U.S. Department of Commerce
  6. Virginia Littlejohn, Chairman and CEO of TradeBuilders

Impact

This pilot virtual trade missionTM among 41 companies in Canada and the U.S. resulted in 22 signed letters of intent — a 54% preliminary success rate. The average number of signed deals from a traditional trade mission is 8%.

The virtual trade missionTM process was recently profiled as a global best practice at the U.S. COMDEX computer show, and at a 65-country conference on globalization and the knowledge-based economy hosted by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) in Paris, France.


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