The Greater Richmond Partnership — Optimizing Their International Strategy

Henrico’s Gary McLaren, Barry Matherly and Chesterfield’s Ben Humphrey travel to Brazil for a one-on-one meeting with a company. Henrico’s Gary McLaren, Barry Matherly and Chesterfield’s Ben Humphrey travel to Brazil for a one-on-one meeting with a company. Photo courtesy of Greater Richmond Partnership.

The Greater Richmond region is a dynamic hub of national and international businesses covering the city of Richmond and Chesterfield, Hanover and Henrico Counties. The area is home to the corporate headquarters of 10 Fortune 1000 companies and represents a broad range of industries from biotech to finance to advanced manufacturing.

We recently caught up with new President and CEO Barry Matherly to learn about changes the Greater Richmond Partnership has made to their international strategy to increase both foreign direct investment and trade opportunities.

Over the last two years, GRP has closed their international offices in England and Germany to avoid duplication with VEDP’s efforts. The group has also discontinued doing a number of group presentations and events internationally.

Matterly explained, “We took that money and invested it in our own research department as well as some third-party companies to generate one-on-one meetings with companies. This allowed us more flexibility, since we’re not locked into a brick-and mortar-investment. We can meet with targeted companies throughout the whole trip and also get to a lot more countries.”

Secretary Maurice Jones addresses the crowd at a breakfast event announcing JPMorgan Chase’s award of a research grant to VCU and their partnership with GRP to expand exporting in the Richmond region.Secretary Maurice Jones addresses the crowd at a breakfast event announcing JPMorgan Chase’s award of a research grant to VCU and their partnership with GRP to expand exporting in the Richmond region.
Photo courtesy of Greater Richmond Partnership.

One success story is Brazil. GRP decided to target their efforts there since VEDP doesn’t have an in-country office. The team has visited over the last two years, and project announcements so far include Kels and Mavalério.

“We’re utilizing our resources more effectively and helping the state, since they can’t be everywhere either,” remarked Matherly.

GRP created the Global Assistance Program, which offers international companies a team of local service providers who provide expert advice on how to establish a location in the Greater Richmond region. The range of services includes accounting, legal, architecture, engineering, banking and relocation.

From a trade perspective, the team launched the Greater Richmond Export Initiative a few years ago to build awareness of existing programs for local companies with export potential. The model was based on the Brookings Institution’s Global Cities Initiative, a joint project of the Brooking Institution and JPMorgan Chase.

Matterly said, “We want to build on what VEDP is already doing and use our marketing to funnel more companies into VEDP’s export programs.”

GRP teamed up with VCU’s Center for Urban and Regional Analysis and received a grant this spring from JPMorgan Chase to conduct research on exporting in the region. The research will address the needs and challenges of local companies to develop a strategy to increase exports in Greater Richmond.

“VCU is currently engaged in the research, and we’re expecting results this fall. Whatever strategy we pursue, it will be based on solid research from one of our premier public universities,” Matherly added.