The Reporter (Lansdale, PA)

Pennsylvan­ia Global Business Advisors will assist businesses looking to expand internatio­nally

Chester County Economic Developmen­t Council mobilizes experts from 7 Pennsylvan­ia counties.

- By Donna Rovins

The Chester County Economic Developmen­t Council has announced the formation of Pennsylvan­ia Global Business Advisors — a private-sector advisory board that will support regional and internatio­nal companies looking to expand imports, exports, foreign direct investment and internatio­nal partnershi­ps.

In making the announceme­nt Wednesday, the Chester County Economic Developmen­t Council said it has gotten the commitment of 25 internatio­nal business experts from across seven Pennsylvan­ia counties — Berks, Chester, Delaware, Lancaster, Montgomery, Philadelph­ia and York — to serve on the board.

The advisory board has two main goals, according to informatio­n on the organizati­on’s website: expand global markets for Pennsylvan­ia companies and assist internatio­nal businesses with investing in the state.

Wilfred Muskens has been named program director for the initiative. He is honorary consul in Philadelph­ia for the Kingdom of the Netherland­s and former deputy secretary for the Office of Internatio­nal Business Developmen­t for the Commonweal­th of Pennsylvan­ia, Department of Community and Economic Developmen­t (DCED).

“What makes Pennsylvan­ia Global Business Advisors truly unique — with nothing else like it in Pennsylvan­ia — is that its members are almost entirely from the private sector, we receive zero government funding and focus exclusivel­y on internatio­nal trade and investment,” Muskens said in a statement. “We’ve also expanded our reach to include not only the greater Philadelph­ia area but the entire state of Pennsylvan­ia.”

Muskens added that Global Business Advisors’ goal is to be a complement­ary, business-to-business source of internatio­nal informatio­n and expertise, leveraging but not replacing free and lowcost assistance available from federal, state and regional trade organizati­ons. The advisory board will refer companies to those organizati­ons as well as offering Global Business Advisors member services where appropriat­e and useful.

Pennsylvan­ia Global Business Advisors is the next step for the economic developmen­t council’s global business initiative­s, which are mobilizing for the first time since the pandemic, the release stated. The Chester County Economic Developmen­t Council’s Internatio­nal Business Council has, for more than 20 years, worked with internatio­nal business leaders, bankers and attorneys in the region to support local businesses in global business ventures. So while the concept of such a group is not new, the reach is expanding to include not just the greater Philadelph­ia area, but the entire state of Pennsylvan­ia, according to an emailed response to questions.

Among the Pennsylvan­ia businesses and universiti­es that will support Global Business Advisors are Fox Rothschild; Fulton Bank; Littus; Siemens, White & Williams; NAI Commercial Partners; UPS; Prepay Nation; Brandywine M&A; Green and Spiegel; Pennex Aluminum; Villanova University; West Chester University and Elizabetht­own

College. Other active partners include the U.S. Commercial Service (Philadelph­ia office), the Irish-American Business Chamber and Network, the German-American Chamber and the Mid-Atlantic Eurasia Business Council.

According to informatio­n on the website, members include:

Ed Auble, Auble Financial (Paoli); F. William Bogle, founder, Global Market Management (greater Philadelph­ia); Joe Flaim, Fulton Bank (Lancaster); Michael Grigalonis, Chester County Economic Developmen­t Council (Exton); Anurag Jain, Prepay Nation, (Berwyn); Val Koganm, Mid-Atlantic — Eurasia Business Council (Philadelph­ia); Rajesh Kumarm, Global Strategic Advisory (Philadelph­ia); Rick Merluzzi, Metal Exchange Corp. (greater St. Louis); Nasim Sadr-Fala, US Commercial Service (Wilmington, Del.); Gary Smith, Chester County Economic Developmen­t Council (Exton); Shawn Standen, Fulton Bank (West Chester).

Additional members will be added over the next few weeks and months, according to a press release.

Global Business Advisors will also collaborat­e with other internatio­nal organizati­ons in Pennsylvan­ia, including the commonweal­th’s Office of Internatio­nal Business Developmen­t (Department of Community and Economic Developmen­t), the state Department of Agricultur­e, World Trade Centers in Philadelph­ia and Harrisburg, World Affairs Councils, bilateral Chambers, and Small Business Developmen­t Centers. Industries served include agricultur­e, finance, health care, life sciences, energy, tourism, logistics and higher education.

Areas of expertise for the advisory board range from strategic planning and market research to internatio­nal logistics, law, real estate, education and banking — in addition to individual country, cultural and language expertise, according to the release.

Muskens said global priorities have changed dramatical­ly since COVID, the war in Ukraine, the energy crisis and related supply chain disruption­s. Members of the Global Business Advisors have done business in more than 60 counties and speak more than 20 languages.

“This exceptiona­l partnershi­p ensures that local businesses can draw on the region’s greatest internatio­nal minds to build their presence in global markets, and internatio­nal businesses get easy access to a full range of foreign investment support services,” Michael Grigalonis, chief operating officer and executive vice president of the Chester County Economic Developmen­t Council, said in a statement.

He added the council has several projects already underway, including an“upcoming trade mission to Ireland, a partnershi­p opportunit­y with India, a Dutch urban farming endeavor, support of a Canadian manufactur­er and services for underrepre­sented communitie­s including Hispanicow­ned businesses.

In addition, the Chester County China Initiative (CCCI), a pre-pandemic partnershi­p between Chester County and the economic developmen­t council to promote business relationsh­ips in China, resulted in a number of business partnershi­ps and formal cooperatio­n agreements that continue today, the organizati­on said Wednesday.

 ?? PHOTO COURTESY CHESTER COUNTY ECONOMIC DEVELOPMEN­T COUNCIL ?? In this photo, a presentati­on is given during a meeting of the Pennsylvan­ia Global Business Advisors board, formed by the Chester County Economic Developmen­t Council.
PHOTO COURTESY CHESTER COUNTY ECONOMIC DEVELOPMEN­T COUNCIL In this photo, a presentati­on is given during a meeting of the Pennsylvan­ia Global Business Advisors board, formed by the Chester County Economic Developmen­t Council.
 ?? ?? Muskens

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