State Trade Directors Discuss Coordinating Economic Development Strategies with Regional Partners

On March 15-17, the State International Development Organizations (SIDO) held their Washington Leadership Forum where over 40 state international trade directors convened for high level meetings with key federal officials. The session centered around our current project with the Economic Development Administration (EDA) focused on enhancing state and local EDO engagement to support Covid-19 recovery and resiliency.

The session provided some key take-aways and opportunities to strengthen the coordination between state, regional and local economic development offices, including:  1) More education is needed for state trade offices on the Comprehensive Economic Development Strategy (CEDS) planning process and how trade can be integrated; and 2) State trade offices need more information on how to coordinate with their economic development district.

According to a live survey of over 30 state international trade directors, over 50 percent of the directors were not familiar with the CEDS plan and process overall. In addition, more than 40 percent of state trade directors do not coordinate efforts with local EDOs. There is clearly a great opportunity to continue to educate state and local leaders around these issues and to increase their engagement.

The panel session included speakers Brittany Sickler from EDA, Brett Schwartz from the National Association of Development Organizations (NADO), Marty Romitti from the Center of Regional Economic Competitiveness (CREC) and Jill Foys from the Northwest Commission in Pennsylvania. The session was extremely productive in educating state international trade directors on EDA’s planning process and coordination, along with how economic development offices are structured around the U.S.