Mayor Ben McAdams announced Thursday that Salt Lake County is joining an economic development network created by the Global Cities Initiative (GCI). The initiative is a five-year joint project of the Brookings Institution and JPMorgan Chase.

Launched in 2012, the Global Cities Initiative helps business and civic leaders grow their metropolitan economies by strengthening international connections and competitiveness.GCI activities include producing data and research to guide decision, fostering practice and policy innovations and facilitating a peer learning network. This network, the Global Cities Initiative’s Exchange, assists metropolitan areas as they develop plans to achieve sustainable growth, first addressing exports and then foreign direct investment. Salt Lake County will start its involvement in the Exchange by developing a metropolitan export plan in 2015.

Salt Lake County is one of eight metro areas accepted into the GCI Exchange’s 2015 group, the final cohort of the 28-metro-area network. The Brookings Institution selected metro areas for the exchange through a competitive process based on their readiness and commitment to pursue the exchange’s global competitiveness principles.

“We have an exciting opportunity to assist the private sector in creating more well-paying jobs and growing the metro economy,” said Mayor McAdams. “Companies that export their products pay at least 17 percent more in wages than companies that only serve domestic markets.”

“For the exchange, we selected metro areas that are committed to expanding their global economic reach by working together to identify regional competitive strengths and increase exports,” said Marek Gootman, director of strategic partnerships and global initiatives at Brookings.

McAdams said the county is working collaboratively with World Trade Center Utah Director Derek B. Miller, and the Governor’s Office of Economic Development (GOED) to collect and analyze market data from the metro area. McAdams says Salt Lake County’s Regional Economic Development Director, Christina Oliver, will lead the team.

“Salt Lake County’s acceptance into the Global Cities Initiative will open the door to new opportunities for Utah as a plan is formulated to boost global trade and investment,” said Derek B. Miller, president and CEO of World Trade Center Utah.”Though the plan will focus specifically on Salt Lake County, it will provide insights that will benefit all Utah companies looking to grow internationally.”

“Utah has had a long-time commitment to improving our economic standing internationally,” said Brett Heimburger, director of the International Trade and Diplomacy Office at GOED. “We embrace any opportunity to increase exports and promote international trade in order to improve the state’s economy and benefit our residents. We look forward to our collaboration with Salt Lake County and World Trade Center Utah.”

McAdams notes that trade sectors have emerged as important focus areas to support high-quality economic growth. Utah has large firms, such as Boeing and Kennecott Rio Tinto that are major exporters. He said having the opportunity to participate in this exchange will provide a roadmap and plan for other businesses to tap into their export potential. Surveys show that many firms are not aware of the export services that exist and don’t know how to get started.

The mission of World Trade Center Utah is to motivate and educate Utah businesses to expand their global presence through training seminars and regional forums focused on international business development, trade issues and export opportunities and to build capacity of Utah businesses for international trade.

Part of the Governor’s Office of Economic Development’s portfolio is trade missions, state trade and export promotion and Utah international public diplomacy.