Orange County companies hoping to take advantage of increased opportunities for global trade now have a new central location to gear up for doing business abroad.
The county’s first World Trade Center opened for business Tuesday in temporary quarters at 1 Park Plaza in Irvine’s Jamboree Center. The center is scheduled to move to new quarters in a 20-story office tower, 4 Park Plaza, that is under construction and scheduled for completion in the spring of 1991.
The World Trade Center will occupy four floors and 80,000 square feet in the new office tower, which will house the World Trade Center Assn. of Orange County and other companies involved in international trade, organizers said.
The opening comes in the midst of increased global trading interest spurred, in part, by plans by 12 West European countries to unify their economies in 1992 and political and economic change in Eastern Europe.
“There has been tremendous growth in the last three years for state and federal governments to establish centers like this,” said Guy F. Tozzoli, president of the International World Trade Center Assn., the New York-based umbrella group that links world trade centers in the United States and abroad.
Membership in the nonprofit trade group has grown by 67% in the past three years, he said. “In 1987, we only had 130 members worldwide in 45 countries. Today, we have 217 members in 54 countries,” he added, with 64 members in the United States.
Irvine’s new world trade center will be California’s sixth, Tozzoli said. The others are in Los Angeles, Long Beach, San Francisco, San Diego and the Ventura County city of Oxnard.
“International trade will be the future of Orange County’s economic growth,” said Paul O. Brady Jr., Irvine’s city manager. “Throughout Irvine, we already have many international companies and Pacific Rim firms, including Allergan Pharmaceuticals, AST Research, AT&T;, Hewlett-Packard, Mazda, Pfizer, Toshiba and Western Digital.”
Orange County companies exported more than $6.2 billion worth of products in 1989, according to U.S. Commerce Department figures.
The Irvine Co. was a major catalyst in helping to persuade the county’s World Trade Center Assn. to move from Santa Ana to Irvine. Dick Sims, president of the development company’s investment properties group, said the presence of the trade center will be a catalyst in attracting more companies to settle in the area. The Irvine Co. is also hoping to attract more companies to locate in the huge Irvine Spectrum business park that it is building nearby.
Susan Lentz, executive director of the county’s World Trade Center Assn., which has more than 800 members, said the group wanted to move its offices to Irvine because roughly a third of its 550 member companies are there.
“The new center will have more conference rooms and a large meeting hall which will provide a meeting point for the county’s businesses that are in world trade or those interested in entering the international market,” Lentz said.
The Orange County trade group, founded in 1979, is part of a worldwide network of over 150 affiliated international business organizations and 60 world trade centers.