News of the further development of TradeBridge, the international trade programme between Wexford and Savannah Georgia, is expected within the coming weeks. In the run-up to the announcement, a trade delegation from the US State of Georgia, including the Commissioner of the Georgia Department of Economic Development, Pat Wilson, paid a special visit to Wexford Enterprise Centre where the TradeBridge programme is based. This high-level delegation from Georgia is visiting Wexford as part of a greater European Trade Mission.
As Commissioner, Mr. Wilson is responsible for creating jobs and investment opportunities in Georgia through business recruitment and expansion, small business growth, international trade and tourism, as well as the arts, film and music industries. Though his Department is not directly involved with TradeBridge, the Commissioner has been following this successful pilot trade initiative as well as the establishment of the International Learning Center with Georgia Southern University, which will also be based in Wexford town. Joining Mr. Wilson from the Georgia Department of Economic Development were Brittany Young, Chief Operating Officer, Ashley Varnum, Global Commerce Division Director and Coryn Marsik, International Relations Manager. Also on the trade mission were Mr. Trip Tollison, President & CEO Savannah Economic Development Authority (SEDA) & World Trade Center (WTC) Savannah, Ms. Jessie Jenkins, Director of Research & Trade Development, WTC Savannah and Ms. Kendria Lee, Director of Economic Development at Georgia Southern University.
TradeBridge was founded and built on historical ties from the time when immigrants from Wexford fled the famine and settled in Savannah. A pilot programme was launched in 2018 with the key aim of creating a trade corridor into the US for Wexford companies, as well as creating a new gateway for Savannah based businesses to export into Europe.
TradeBridge is based in Wexford Enterprise Centre and was conceived and developed by Wexford Enterprise Association, Wexford County Council, Enterprise Ireland, Savannah Economic Development Authority (SEDA) and the World Trade Center Savannah. 35 companies from Wexford and the Southeast engaged with the initial pilot programme, representing the Engineering and Advanced Manufacturing, Agritech, Education and Information, Communications & Technology (ICT) sectors.
In 2020, a further three-year funding was granted from Enterprise Ireland under their Regional Enterprise Development Fund to develop TradeBridge into a fully-fledged Regional Development Programme. This will see it expand into the five counties of the Southeast of Ireland and sixteen counties in the Southeast region of Georgia. The pandemic slowed the progress of this programme, but is now able to forge ahead again. Details are expected to be announced in the coming weeks.