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Global Cities Initiative: The Exchange

The Exchange is a network of metro areas that over the course of the first five years of the Global Cities Initiative developed and implemented regional trade and investment 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 the 32 U.S. metropolitan areas who participated in the two-phase planning process to create integrated export and foreign direct investment (FDI) plans.

The Exchange map
Final plan documents
Additional resources


Metropolitan areas participating in the Exchange


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Final plan documents

Global Trade and Investment Plans

Columbus Milwaukee San Antonio
Des Moines Minneapolis-St. Paul San Diego
Fresno Phoenix Seattle
Indianapolis Portland  Syracuse
Louisville-Lexington Salt Lake County

FDI Plans

Atlanta Los Angeles Wichita
Charleston St. Louis
Greenville-Spartanburg Tampa Bay

Export Plans

Atlanta Greenville-Spartanburg Los Angeles
Baltimore Houston Philadelphia
Charleston Jacksonville Sacramento
Fresno Kansas City San Antonio
Wichita  St. Louis

In Progress

Baltimore (FDI) Houston (FDI)
Chicago (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.

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

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.

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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