Thanks to the constant inter and intraregional exchange of best practices and integration in our global ecosystem, the WTCA European network is becoming a region of success with a growing business perspective
Big companies, as well as small and medium enterprises, more and more often, look for ways to connect in order to become more resilient to the constant changes in the market. World Trade Centers Association (WTCA®) has been offering this kind of support for years, and Danica Milovanović, WTCA representative for SEE explains how Members in this global organization collaborate. After many years of her career in the international corporate sector in Serbia and abroad, as well as in the Serbian public administration, Danica joined the WTCA team in Europe and took over the responsibility for membership engagement and business development in Central and Eastern Europe. By 2022 number of licenses, Europe, with its 83 regular Members, is the second biggest WTCA region, following Asia and the Pacific. As WTCA Membership Engagement Coordinator and in close cooperation with the WTCA Headquarters in New York, Danica encourages and supports the European Members to be very active within the global WTCA network.
In what ways do you think the local SMEs can benefit from getting a WTCA license?
Established in 1969, the World Trade Centers Association® (WTCA®) is a vibrant membership community of over 300 World Trade Center businesses in nearly 100 countries, with the mandate to facilitate and promote international trade and development. Our license holders are real estate developers, economic development agencies, governmental organizations, chambers of commerce, airports, ports, logistical hubs and industrial parks, free zones, conference and exhibition centers, hotel chains, business incubators, universities, and much more.
Each WTC location has its own business model and concept, as we are not a franchise organization
The vast majority of WTCA Members’ business members around the world are SMEs. What the strength of our global network is really about is that it creates an environment of trust in which WTCA members collaborate and share ideas and best practices, allowing one WTC to contact any other fellow Member and provide assistance to the local business community to help it develop trade opportunities and grow internationally.
The strength of the WTC brand and the WTCA network is evident during my visits to our locations, for instance, in conversations with local tenants, mostly SMEs operating in a variety of industries. By renting the WTC space, they simply take advantage of access to global trade and investment flows and grow with the WTC location.
What would be a good example of a success story for prospects who decided to join the WTCA?
Our organization’s greatest asset is our most engaged WTCA Membership, who – through the use of our digital tools and programming and participation in events on a regional and global scale – find the necessary business connections across the globe and address long-term challenges.
Each WTC location has its own business model and concept, as we are not a franchise organization. The city, which hosts a WTC business, often becomes the access point for global trade and investment opportunities by gaining international business credibility and increased business confidence.
Some of the success stories within our mature Membership in Central and Eastern Europe:
WTC Dresden (year of inception 1992) – a very successful real estate model owned by a private investment fund managing company, which works closely with the local Economic Development agency to provide trade services such as inbound and outbound trade missions to/from Eastern Germany;
WTC Trieste (year of inception 1998) – 100% privately owned WTC by a logistic company with 100+ years of experience, a mixed real-estate and trade services WTC concept, which benefits from the cooperation with local institutions such as the Port of Trieste (with its Custom Free Zone), AREA Science Park, Municipality and Region and the Chamber of Commerce in attracting the businesses to its membership and assisting them in international business development projects;
WTC Istanbul (year of inception 1980) – 100% owned by the Istanbul Chamber of Commerce, the only one European WTC that exclusively facilitates the organization of international trade exhibitions and shows at its Expo Center and accommodation at two high-class hotels close to the Expo with 100% occupancy rate.
Thanks to the constant inter and intraregional exchange of best practices and integration in our global ecosystem, the WTCA European network is becoming a region of success with a growing business perspective.
Do you have any information on how one WTCA licensee can contribute to changing the economic landscape of a particular area, city, etc.?
On every continent, whether in an economically developed country or an emerging market, WTCA’s global network, expertise (15.000 trade and investment professionals around the world) and partnerships with other international organizations (UN Global Compact, Global Association of the Exhibition Industry, Airports Council International Europe, etc.) provide a strong impetus to the local economic development by raising the international profile of the considered location and gaining competitive differentiation and advantage.
Despite today’s economic uncertainties, the WTCA manages to increase visibility and outreach and is proud to welcome new Members from around the world every year
Landmark WTC building attracts world-class and high-profile tenants who achieve higher rents and higher occupancy rates and consequently generate an increase in its own value and the value of neighbouring properties – even up to 20%. High-quality networking facilitates communication and interaction between the local business community and its international counterparts. A robust portfolio of WTCA events, state-of-the-art resources and global PR and marketing promotion provides tools for the local business community that has immediate access to the global market, alternative distributors, suppliers and service providers, etc.
Last but not least, globally integrated trade services to WTC business members and access to reciprocal WTC facilities worldwide anchor the city’s economic activity and growth and contribute significantly to a country’s exports and GDP. All that, and much more, comes with WTCA Membership.
What changes need to be made by the potential prospects to become eligible for the license?
We welcome member applications from the private sector, governmental entities, and public-private partnerships alike. The WTCA has a comprehensive application process where an applicant submits a business plan outlining a solid long-term vision for the proposed WTC, also sharing financial information and letters of recommendation to demonstrate local support for the project and pay a license initiation fee. A WTC project can be related to an existing infrastructure or a new project. Once our team reviews this information and discusses this with the applicant, if favourable, the application will be submitted to the WTCA Executive Committee (EC) for review and approval. Once the EC approves the application, we proceed with the execution of a license agreement.
Despite today’s economic uncertainties, the WTCA manages to increase visibility and outreach and is proud to welcome new Members from around the world every year. Our network has really proven to be a mutually supportive system in the most difficult times.
How long does it take for WTCA to issue a license, and can you give an estimation of how much time passes until the first results can be recorded?
The application process takes an average of two to three months. We assign licenses on a city basis only, so we are looking for a potential licensed Member who is supported by the local government and business community. In addition to the real estate component, what is equally important is the commitment to engage with our global network and to be active in offering trade services or identifying potential local partners for the provision of trade services (market assessments, market access programs, education or training on current topics such as sustainability, trade missions, various trade-related events and B2B matchmakings, etc.).
WTCA offers an iconic brand of trust and credibility, recognized all around the world, as well as resources and tools to boost local and regional economic growth. It is up to each new WTC location how quickly it is able to leverage our global ecosystem of real estate relationships and integrated trade services. And I’m always available to support and guide them on this growth path.