Helping louisiana companies grow globally
Port Log Fall 2015
Creating jobs and wealth in the State through international trade, economic development and allied activities is the mission of the WTCNO
It’s easy to forget how storied an organization the World Trade Center of New Orleans (WTCNO) is. After all, they are the first World Trade Center to come into existence. Before New York, before the 300 other World Trade Centers, before the organization found a footing in 96 different countries, two organizations gave birth to the WTCNO, and its story is integral to the shaping of New Orleans.
The Crescent City has long had a history of international trade and became a center of commerce at its founding, but the International House and the International Trade Mart, founded in 1943 and 1945 respectively, cemented that reputation and went even further when they merged in 1985 to form the World Trade Center of New Orleans. The concept was designed to encourage foreign and local companies to showcase their wares in a central marketplace and feel more inclined to do business in the city. That’s where the idea for the building came in: real estate was an integral aspect of WTCNO’s role as it created an accessible and iconic place where domestic and international visitors could showcase and exchange products, services and ideas and participate in business-to-business matchmaking.
“That idea spawned a desire to have a larger space and the move to what became the World Trade Center building,” said WTCNO Marketing Director Jessica Steverson. “The building was built in 1964 and completed in 1967. Our organization for many, many years was housed at #2 Canal Street, in a specially designed environment to showcase products and provide office space for businesses in the international trade arena. The concept was to put everything international in one place for ready access and marketability.”
In 2011, the organization moved into their current offices next door at One Canal Place, leaving behind the publicly owned building at #2 Canal Street for possible redevelopment by the City, following damage from Hurricane Katrina and a shift in the downtown commercial leasing patterns. From its new location, the WTCNO continues to fulfill its mission as a global promoter of international trade and investment in Louisiana.
Today, with more than 1,000 companies and individual members, the organization remains as relevant as ever. Despite its New Orleans-centric name, the World Trade Center of New Orleans represents companies throughout the state of Louisiana and the Gulf Coast. The WTCNO is an integral part of the state’s international growth as it brings Louisiana’s largest exporters, industry stakeholders, and many other companies and businesses to the table through various committees, roundtables, programs, education, advocacy and research.
“Our founding mission is to create jobs and wealth in Louisiana through international trade, economic development and allied activities,” said Steverson,
“We fulfill that mission through our trade research services and business programming as well as other initiatives and advocacy at the state and federal level. Our membership continues to grow year after year, and we are continuously working to provide services that prepare and enable our members to take advantage of opportunities within the global marketplace.”