Q&A: Carla Sydney Stone, executive director of World Trade Center Delaware

Talk about your role as executive director of the World Trade Center (WTC) Delaware.

Our mission at the World Trade Center Delaware is to help our members, clients, partners and our state government reach their international goals. As executive director, I lead one of over 320 World Trade Centers in 90 countries with 15,000 employees. In addition to my overall responsibilities for the WTC Delaware’s organization mission and strategy, financial performance, board governance, and public representation.

What are Delaware businesses looking for when it comes to resources, opportunities and global networking?

Everyone requires true and timely information on which to base decisions. It can be very difficult for businesses to sift through the plethora of internet sites and know which source to trust. We have 30 years of trade-services experience and can provide accurate information and access to the leading international business experts from industry, government, academia and non-governmental organizations across the globe.

As a member of the WCTA, we can be very agile in answering requests and making connections.
This year, we launched three new programs: Our innovative WTCDE Procurement Partners Program brings procurement managers from U.S. and international donor agencies to Delaware to train them on how to find new contracting opportunities, to become registered bidders, and to respond to international tenders.

Our WTCDE On the Road Program takes representatives to meet with potential private sector customers, diplomats, NGOs contracting and procurement officers, and donors.Our WTC Delaware At Your Doorstep Program brings officials with decision-making and purchasing authority to visit Delaware to explore partnerships and business opportunities.

How does Delaware rank when it comes to seizing opportunities in the global marketplace?

Although 95 percent of customers live outside of the United States, Delaware exports — more than $4.5 billion in 2016 — make up just 0.3 percent of all U.S. exports, with the UK and Canada as the top two destinations. As expected, the pharmaceutical, chicken, banana, petroleum, chemical equipment and vehicle sectors contribute to the top 25 exports.

What are some of the things happening with World Trade Center Delaware that people might not know?

Our programs, including trade missions, are developed in response to specific requests for information by companies, Delaware state agencies, our partners or embassies.

What are some recent challenges and rewards?

Our biggest challenge is expanding our service throughout southern Delaware, beyond the poultry industry. I would like to include more companies in manufacturing and tourism from Kent and Sussex counties.

I just returned from a week in Washington, D.C., where our first WTCDE On the Road Program took members to the U.S.-Africa Business Summit to meet with potential private sector customers, diplomats, NGOs, contracting and procurement officers and donors. The companies made valuable contacts at the Summit and believe that this trip saved them a great deal of time and effort in locating potential customers and partners.

Recently, representatives from Botswana, Liberia and Rwanda came to Delaware and met with Delaware legislators, the presidents of Delaware State University and Tidewater Utilities, and toured ILC Dover and UD’s Lasher Labs.

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