Monday, April 22nd, 2013

Trade Missions Help Floyd County’s’ Unemployment Problems

Virginia’s largest industries are forestry and agriculture, annually yielding $24 billion and $55 billion respectively and providing around 500,000 jobs throughout the Commonwealth.

Since 2010 the state of Virginia has been pursuing Governor Bob McDonnell’s aim to increase the levels of forestry and agricultural exports. This week the Governor, who has been on his second marketing and trade mission to China, has announced that opening of an office in Shanghai – China’s commercial and economic capital – to further the trading relationship between Virginia and China. As one the quickest growing economies in the world China had been highlighted as a country to pursue for new business opportunities for agribusiness exporters and producers.

Governor McDonnell has commented that this new link would further develop China’s position as Virginia’s largest export market. With business going from strength to strength and massive future growth potential, the more that is exported to China the higher the levels of employment in Virginia will be. Add to this the first mover competitive advantages Virginia will reap from the nearly completed Panama Canal expansion project – thought to be completed at the start of 2015 – and Virginia is set to become the market leader exporter to China.

Logistics manager to head up trade office

Annie Kang has been employed as the representative to work in Shanghai, she is the president and founder of the Shanghai based firm, Shanghai Rui Nian Investment Management Company. With over 15 years experience in the logistics and shipping industry she has comprehensive background in major agricultural commodities.

Floyd County winery wins a major contract

Established over 37 years ago Chateau Morrisette is regarded as one of Virginia’s finest wineries and produces more than 60,000 cases a year.

Timed to coincide with the Governors trade mission to China the Chateau Morrisette sent over 1,150 cases of a 2011 Merlot. In a historic agreement with the Tianjin Commodity Exchange Company Ltd this is the first wine export of its kind for Virginiaand sits perfectly with the Governors goal of increasing exports internationally.

The deal emerged after the Chateau Morrisette was given details, through The Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, of nine interested Chinese buyers who then visited the winery in October, last year. The buyers were given a tour of the winery and then a dinner with the wines from the vineyard matched to the restaurant menu. From this initial successful visit an order was then placed for the 1,150 cases twice a year. The Chinese buyers will be returning later this year to decide on the wines for their next shipment. With Chinese buyers enjoying and crucially understanding traditional French grapes, such as Cabernet Francs, Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot, Chateau Morrisette is in a strong position to continue and develop this relationship.

Governor McDonnell commented that this new export deal would not only provide new opportunities but new growth and regeneration to the area.

Hamilton Beach pursues the Chinese market

Governor McDonnell further announced this week that Hamilton Beach, who produce small kitchen appliances and have had great success around the United States, Canada and Mexico, has also signed a deal. YingLi, a major Chinese distributor, plans to develop this new market fast for the Henrico based business.

Good news all round

This new trade office and exciting contracts will signal a welcome reprieve to those living in Floyd County and the wider area. Unemployment levels in Floyd County have bucked the state trend in the last year and risen slightly from 6.6 percent in February 2012 to 7 percent in February 2013. As well as wide range of other difficult socio-economic effects higher unemployment levels have been linked in the past to high consumption levels of alcohol. An existing survey by NESARC highlighted the link between an economic downturn and alcohol mis-use, alcohol dependence and drink driving. This is further borne out by research that suggests that there are strikingly high unemployment rates in alcohol treatment programs. With the economy not looking to fully recover for at least the next couple of years the news of these possible trade links and business deals from China is a step in the right direction for Floyd County and the Commonwealth.