This Inner Harbor event spotlights local connections to international business
Baltimore’s role as a port has long brought connections to the global economy, and that’s continuing to grow today: In July, the Port of Baltimore set a new cargo record, handling 98,529 containers in a month. These days, of course, people and goods also flow in by air, and BWI Airport is in the midst of an expansion as it looks to account for increased business.
“They’re the hubs for imports and exports in our region,” said Lydia Yodie, senior manager for business development and membership at the World Trade Center Institute (WTCI), the Inner Harbor-based organization created 30 years ago to provide connections for locally based, globally minded business leaders. “It’s what makes Baltimore an international hub for business.”
These centers of commerce are home to companies in the maritime and freight logistics management industries, as well as engineering firms, distributors and other contractors. Increasingly, it’s also a place where tech companies are playing a role, whether it’s securing or sharing shipment data or new technology to provide airport security screenings.
“There’s still a huge role for technology to play,” said Wally Pinkard, WTCI’s senior director of marketing. “It’s very under the radar in a lot of ways, but it’s starting to change.”
On Nov. 13, the Maryland State of the Ports and WTCI 30th Anniversary celebration is bringing together businesses at Inner Harbor’s Columbus Center to reflect on changes over the years, and look forward to new voyages.
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Starting at 4 p.m., the event features a pair of breakout sessions:
- The Maryland State of the Ports Address, delivered by State Transportation Secretary Pete Rahn
- Opportunities in an Era of Trade Uncertainty, a panel discussion on managing international operations amid current trade uncertainty featuring leaders from World Aware, JP Morgan Chase, Pompeian Olive Oil and Titan Steel
That’s followed by a reception featuring food from the city’s international restaurants, and a showcase of performances highlighting the global community.
During the reception, attendees will be toasting the 30th anniversary of WTCI. The organization was founded in 1989 by then-Maryland Gov. William Donald Schaefer and RTKL Associates Chairman Harold Adams as they sought to bring World Trade Center resources to Baltimore. The goal, said Yodie, is to provide connections and new ideas as member businesses expand or seek to sustain a presence in global markets.
Based out of Inner Harbor’s World Trade Center, the organization evolved to keep pace with what members wanted. The last few years have also brought growth, as three new employees joined in mid-2019. These have also included new roles: In May 2018, Susan Aplin joined as chief innovation officer after leading sustainable home goods brand Bambeco, and one of the recent hires is focused around data analytics.
Today, it’s made up of a diverse membership of businesses from the area, which the Nov. 13 event aims to represent. Along with marquis names, there’s an increasing number of smaller firms getting involved. WTCI runs programming that ranges from large public events to work with local entrepreneurs via partnerships with ETC and Spark Baltimore. It also runs an AGILE Innovation series, bringing together voices on topics shaping international business like AI and sustainability.
“The international market is affecting every part of your business, no matter how you think about yourself or what you’re doing,” Yodie said.