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Global Cities Initiative: The Exchange

The Exchange is a network of metro areas that will develop and implement regional strategies to boost global trade and investment, forge partnerships between U.S. and international metropolitan areas, and advocate for state and national policy changes. The Exchange enables leaders to act on the ideas and collaborations generated by GCI’s research and forums, resulting in more globally-oriented metropolitan areas and an evolution in economic development policy and practice.

At the core of the Exchange are 28 U.S. metropolitan areas engaged in a two-phase planning process aimed at creating integrated export and foreign direct investment (FDI) plans.

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Metropolitan areas participating in the Exchange


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Final plan documents

Global trade and investment plans. These often supplant existing export plans

Atlanta Columbus Des Moines
Greenville-Spartanburg Indianapolis plan | Summary Milwaukee
Minneapolis-St. Paul Portland San Antonio
San Diego Seattle Syracuse

Export plans

Atlanta Charleston Greenville-Spartanburg
Houston Jacksonville Kansas City
Los Angeles Louisville-Lexington Philadelphia
Phoenix Sacramento Syracuse
Salt Lake St. Louis Wichita

Planning in progressPhase is noted in parentheses

Baltimore (exports and FDI) Charleston (FDI) Chicago (FDI)
Fresno (FDI) Houston (FDI) Louisville-Lexington (FDI)
Phoenix (FDI) Salt Lake (FDI) Seattle (exports)
St. Louis (FDI) Tampa Bay (FDI) Washington, DC
Wichita (FDI)

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Creating a global trade and investment plan

Phase 1: Exports

The first core component of the Exchange is a metropolitan export plan crafted by a team of regional cross-sector leaders. Export plans apply market intelligence to the development of strategies that help regions to cultivate a larger pipeline of export-ready firms and better connect them to export services and growing global markets. The export planning process results in four key deliverables: a data-driven market assessment; an export plan with specific goals, objectives, and strategies; an implementation plan; and a policy memo that identifies critical state and federal reforms.

Example export plans:

Note: Portland and Minneapolis-St. Paul created global trade and investment plans which update and supplant these export plans. These examples are provided for reference only.

Phase 2: FDI

Foreign direct investment is a natural complement to export planning initiatives and serves as the second core component of the Exchange. In this phase, metro areas explore new forms of FDI, assess the interaction of FDI and exports, and develop strategies to attract and retain investment. Each metro area produces a market assessment, a global trade and investment plan, an implementation plan, and a policy memo. The global trade and investment plan integrates both FDI and exports, supplanting the export plan.

Example global trade and investment plans:

Intermediate outputs

The following are examples of metro area plan deliverables and resources that have proven effective in the development and implementation of global trade and investment plans.

Plan deliverables

Planning resources

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The Exchange toolkit

Brookings’ how-to guides for the planning process, and other tools.

Phase 1: Exports

Phase 2: FDI

For detailed stories and lessons from the design and implementation of both exports and foreign direct investment strategies, see The making of global cities: Stories from the Global Cities Exchange.

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Additional resources from the Global Cities Initiative

The goal of the Exchange is to foster a network of metro areas that are deepening their global trade relationships and positioning themselves for high quality growth and competitiveness in the 21st-century economy. To achieve this vision, metropolitan areas will strategically align global assets (such as infrastructure and logistics, advanced research, and skilled labor) with their global trade and investment plans. Below is a set of Brookings reports and resources related to broader global engagement and competitiveness.

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