A delegation led by Philadelphia Commerce Director Harold T. Epps recently returned from multi-day trade and investment mission to Europe, with stops in Germany, France and Portugal. Members of the delegation began arriving in Germany on September 24 and the final day of the mission was September 30. The group took part in several meetings, tours and other activities each day, focusing on business attraction and best practices for workforce development.
“Our first international mission far exceeded my expectations when it came to building relationships and learning from our counterparts in Europe,” said Commerce Director Harold T. Epps. “The companies we met with expressed that our presence there showed the City’s commitment to helping international businesses get set up in Philadelphia, and that is a sign we are on the right track. The interactions we had abroad reinforced our belief that Philly must continue to increase its visibility on the global stage. We want these businesses to see us as a resource and feel like our city is welcoming to companies looking to relocate or expand in the United States.”
During the final day of the mission, Commerce Chief of Staff Sylvie Gallier Howard traveled to France, where she met with the Region of Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes. Pennsylvania has a longstanding relationship with the Region of Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes, and the Department of Commerce is hoping to further strengthen it by forming a more concrete partnership around business and student exchange.
Simultaneously, Commerce Director Harold T. Epps met with officials in Portugal, including the President of Sintra’s City Council, to evaluate the business and investment potential for Sintra in Philadelphia. As a result of conversations with Commerce Director Epps, one Portuguese business owner will be making a stop in Philadelphia in the near future to further explore the opportunities available here.
While in Germany, a major focus of the delegation centered on learning best practices from the country’s acclaimed workforce development model. Dual vocational training, which helps young people seamlessly transition between school and career, has been part of Germany’s culture for centuries. The apprenticeship programs lead to career paths in advanced manufacturing, construction, office management, medical personnel, cosmetology, culinary and more fields.
During the mission, the group also worked to strengthen ties with Frankfurt, Philadelphia’s newest Sister City, and participated in the biannual conference of the Northwest European and North American Regional Secretariat of the Organization of World Heritage Cities. The theme for this year’s conference was “involving the community in world heritage.”
In addition to staff from the Department of Commerce, participants included Councilman Al Taubenberger and representatives from Select Greater Philadelphia, Citizen Diplomacy International, Global Philadelphia Association, the German-American Chamber of Commerce of Philadelphia, the French-American Chamber of Commerce of Philadelphia, the African American Chamber of Commerce of PA, NJ & DE, Peirce College, Temple University, and other partners from the business community. The Commonwealth’s Office of International Business Development also provided support by arranging meetings for the delegation through their authorized trade representatives abroad. Morgan Lewis (in Frankfurt) and Greenberg Traurig (in Berlin) hosted the delegation for discussion about energy and tech exchange respectively.