From global broadband infrastructure solutions enabling Gigabit communities around the world – and tactical aerospace and defense training systems in the Middle East and Europe – to breeder chicks and weather radar systems in Asia, North Alabama products and services are increasingly being found and sought after all around the world!
Thirty-five years ago, a group of forward-thinking business and community leaders came together to determine how Madison County and its businesses could position themselves to take advantage of an emerging global marketplace. This proactive group realized that education was essential to facilitating trade, and their work led to the creation of the North Alabama International Trade Association (NAITA) in 1983. The Madison County Commission embraced this vision and provided the framework and support for NAITA to be the regional resource for international trade development. NAITA, a non-profit business-driven membership organization, continues to provide advocacy, training, and networking for market diversification outside our borders to promote economic growth in North Alabama.
Dale Strong, Chairman of the Madison County Commission and a key partner of NAITA, explains, “Trade brings increased jobs, revenue, and economic diversification to Madison County and our neighboring communities. Exports are vital to economic growth in North Alabama and our state, and NAITA’s international business education and advocacy help expand Madison County’s reach around the globe and diversify our economic base.”
Board members representing regional industry, economic development groups, and service providers guide NAITA’s international business strategy. Diversified companies, such as ADTRAN, Aladdin Light Lift, Aviagen, Baron Services, Hexagon (formerly home-grown Intergraph), PPG Aerospace, PZI International Consulting, and RUAG Space USA are represented on the board, along with service providers, including the Port of Huntsville, Panalpina, and the Shoals Economic Development Authority.
NAITA is poised to assist with international trade seminars and training in areas such as export controls and compliance, foreign military sales (FMS), global logistics and finance, targeted overseas markets, free trade agreements, and the mechanics of exporting and importing. Education continues to be a significant factor in facilitating global growth, and the trade association has hosted nationally-sponsored and recognized conferences.
“The Madison County Commission International Trade Development Center, NAITA’s local government partner, provides research and one-on-one counseling to companies to help them export successfully, and provides assistance in export controls and compliance – which is critical for North Alabama’s aerospace, defense and high-tech companies,” said Anne Burkett, NAITA Executive Director, and Director of Planning & Economic Development for the Madison County Commission.
NAITA was honored to be recognized by Governor Kay Ivey with the 2018 Governor’s Trade Excellence Award during this 35th anniversary year, which is a continuous celebration of educational and networking activities. Additional highlights include What Lies Ahead for NAFTA? – the NAITA Conversation on Trade, which featured representatives from the Canadian and Mexican governments; a program on the EU’s General Data Protection Regulations (GDRP); the NAITA Trade Compliance Roundtable meetings featuring a return appearance by the former Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Export Administration (the author of Export Control Reform) and the Bureau of Industry & Security’s Office of Export Enforcement; the International Trade Summit in Washington, DC, in conjunction with the Huntsville/Madison County Chamber’s Annual DC Trip; foreign military sales briefings, including industry updates from the U.S. Army Security Assistance Command (USASAC); the 7th Annual Global Supply Chain & Logistics Summit in partnership with the Export Alabama Alliance; and culminating with the 35th Anniversary World Trade Day Luncheon Celebration on November 1, 2018.
Plans are underway to continue NAITA’s efforts. Moving into the future, as HudsonAlpha Institute for Biotechnology grows in North Alabama, and other life sciences firms grow in the region and around the state, the North Alabama International Trade Association (NAITA) stands ready to assist in launching these firms into the international marketplace. An exciting partnership initiative will be announced later this fall!
Please contact Anne Burkett, NAITA Executive Director and Director, Planning Economic Development for the Madison County Commission, at 256-532-3505 or visit naita.org for further information and to take advantage of global opportunities. NAITA is pleased to collaborate with our trade partners and with companies across North Alabama to further expand the availability of local and regional products and services to all corners of the globe.
by Amanda P. Berkey, Senior International Trade Specialist, Madison County Commission Department of Planning & Economic Development