Trade Mission Cements Economic Ties with Israel

Posted by Kristen Rupert on Dec 22, 2016 11:03:34 AM

Editor's note - Kristen Rupert, Executive Director of the AIM International Business Council, traveled to Israel earlier this month as part of Governor Charlie Baker's trade mission.

Governor Charlie Baker’s recent trade mission to Israel took place at a propitious time for US-Israel relations.

Gov.Baker.Israel.jpgThe first two (of an order of 50) F-35 fighter jets were delivered by the US to Israel while the Massachusetts trade delegation was participating in meetings in Tel Aviv.  These state-of-the-art, manufactured-in-the-US, stealth aircraft were flown from the US to an Israeli airbase in the Negev where they were greeted by Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, US Defense Secretary Ash Carter, US Ambassador to Israel Daniel Shapiro, and a large crowd of US and Israeli military personnel.

Against this backdrop of goodwill between the US and Israel, Massachusetts executives spent four days in panel discussions, informational briefings and networking sessions with Israeli counterparts in the digital health and cybersecurity sectors.  A few examples:

Two panels on cybersecurity, featuring chief security, tech and information officers from Harvard, the Federal Reserve, Raytheon, IBM, Akamai and Beth Israel Deaconess, addressed the challenges of staying ahead of the “bad guys.”  Lessons learned: think of cybersecurity as an investment and not a cost for your company, continue to add security features for log-ins and data access, and communicate regularly to employees—nearly all of whom carry a mobile device—about the critical importance of protecting company and personal data.

On research and innovation, Governor Baker and Israel’s Chief Scientist spoke at a half-day session, convened by GE, about complementary strengths in Massachusetts and Israel.  Both leaders spoke about the value of collaboration among government, private industry, and universities.  Massachusetts is historically strong in technology and our defense legacy is helping us grow a cybersecurity ecosystem.  Israel spends more per capita on research and development than any country in the world and the government funds start-ups in all industries at all stages.  Both Israel and Massachusetts have strong talent pools from which to hire—yet both are struggling with the need for additional skilled workers.

Governor Baker stressed the “powerful possibilities” of collaboration between the Bay State and Israel.  Strong ties already exist.  Many Israeli doctors and health-care researchers trained or practiced in Massachusetts.  More than 200 Israeli-founded companies are thriving in the Boston area.  Thrice-weekly non-stop flights between Boston and Tel Aviv already carry university professors, students on internships, private industry leaders, medical professionals and government officials.

Several Memoranda of Understanding focused on cybersecurity and technology were signed by Massachusetts government officials and their Israeli counterparts during the trip.  Now back home, trade mission delegates are already talking about how to launch and nurture additional collaborations and encourage Israeli start-ups to come to Boston.

Governor Baker said it best when he invited company founders to consider Massachusetts “your home away from home.”  Certainly the recent trade mission reinforced the strong desire by Israelis and Bay Staters to work even more closely together over the next few years.    

Topics: International Trade, AIM International Business Council, Charlie Baker

Baker: Israel Mission to Emphasize Cybersecurity, Digital Health

Posted by Kristen Rupert on Oct 6, 2016 3:50:22 PM

The upcoming Massachusetts trade mission to Israel will emphasize cybersecurity and digital health, two industries in which Governor Charlie Baker says the commonwealth has an opportunity to become a powerful worldwide player.

International2016.jpgBaker told more than 150 business leaders and diplomats at the 2016 AIM Global Trade Symposium this morning that cybersecurity and digital health are related because digitally driven insulin pumps and other medical devices must be invulnerable to software hackers.

“Cybersecurity will become the prerequisite for digital health,” Baker said during a keynote speech at Gillette Stadium in Foxboro.

“When we get onto the idea of medical devices designed to monitor health status…the whole idea of breach in something like that is not a shrug-the-shoulders kind of moment.”

The governor said Massachusetts remains well positioned to increase exports because of significant upgrades to the infrastructure for moving products from the Bay State to overseas destinations by sea and by air. He noted the expansion of direct overseas flights at Logan International Airport, the dredging of Boston Harbor, and the expansion of the Connelly Terminal in Boston as important steps to ensure that Massachusetts employers will continue to have access to foreign markets.

The AIM Symposium honored three Massachusetts companies with Global Trade Awards for excellence in international business - REXA of West Bridgewater, L-3 Security & Detection Systems of Woburn, and Riverdale Mills Corporation of Northbridge.

“International trade plays a pivotal role in the health of the Massachusetts economy” said Richard Lord, President and CEO of AIM.

“That is why we are delighted to honor the achievements of these local winners, who set the standard for global business. These firms are making a significant contribution to Massachusetts’s reputation as a world trade leader. ”

Employers and academics at the Symposium agreed that uncertainty hangs over international commerce in the form of a strong dollar, weakness in key export markets, the impending exit of the United Kingdom from the European Union and a rising tide of protectionism both in the U.S. and abroad. Several companies reported that the rising dollar and falling shipping costs are bringing new, low-cost competitors into many overseas markets.

“The uncertainty level has certainly gone up in the past several years,” said, Ravi Ramamurti, Distinguished Professor, Northeastern University’s D’Amore-McKim School of Business, who led a panel discussion on “Tough Times for Trade.”

He added that the slowing growth in Europe and Asia appears to be structural rather than cyclical in nature.

The effects of currency shifts and other factors vary widely depending on industry, geography and the ability of a particular business to adapt.

“Volatility creates opportunity,” said Charlie Cunnion, Director of Global Transportation for International Forest Products LLC, the largest exporter in New England.

“When things are difficult, that’s when we shine the best,”

Topics: International Trade, AIM International Business Council, Charlie Baker

Three Companies Honored with Global Trade Awards

Posted by Kristen Rupert on Sep 19, 2016 7:30:00 AM

A global maker of security detection systems, a company that keeps pipelines flowing and a major producer of wire mesh are the winners of the 21st Annual Global Trade Awards from the Associated Industries of Massachusetts International Business Council (AIM-IBC).

IBC.jpgThe 2016 Global Trade honorees announced this morning include REXA of West Bridgewater, L-3 Security & Detection Systems of Woburn, and Riverdale Mills Corporation of Northbridge. The awards recognize Massachusetts companies and organizations of all sizes that have demonstrated excellence in international trade.

“International trade plays a pivotal role in the health of the Massachusetts economy” said Richard Lord, President and CEO of AIM.

“That is why we are delighted to honor the achievements of these local winners, who set the standard for global business. We applaud their ability to be strategic and differentiate themselves to serve industries overseas.  These firms are making a significant contribution to Massachusetts’s reputation as a world trade leader. ”

The three Global Trade Awards winners will be honored during the AIM Global Trade Symposium & Awards Breakfast at Gillette Stadium on Thursday, October 6, from 8-11 a.m. Those in attendance will hear from Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker and a panel of business leaders about ways Massachusetts can succeed in a rapidly-changing global business world.

Ambassador’s Award - REXA
West Bridgewater

REXA designs and manufactures superior actuators, a device used by operators of pipelines, power plants and hydro dams to regulate the flow of water, steam or petroleum through industrial pipeline valves. Using innovative motion control technology, REXA actuators enable operators to open, close or adjust large valves from remote locations for normal usage or, in case of  emergency situations, to avoid spills or contamination. REXA technology is used in power generation, oil & gas, mining, metals, water and waste industries. A Japanese-owned company founded in 1981, REXA’s products are in high demand globally, with 40 percent of their products distributed internationally.

Diplomat’s Award - L-3 Security & Detection Systems
Woburn, MA

L-3 Security & Detection Systems (L-3 SDS) is a leading supplier of security screening solutions, with more than 50,000 systems deployed and supported around the globe. Founded in 1986, L-3 SDS designs and manufactures cutting-edge products for secure facilities using advanced technologies such as 3-D computed tomography; automated, conventional and high-energy X-ray; radiation detection; active millimeter wave imaging; metal detection and more.   L-3 SDS engineers have improved airport x-ray scanners’ threat detection capabilities across the globe.

Chairman’s Award - Riverdale Mills Corporation
Northbridge, MA

Founded in 1980, Riverdale Mills Corporation is one of the world’s leading manufacturers of high-quality engineered, galvanized and PVC coated wire mesh fabrics. Riverdale Mills produces more than 3,500 sizes of welded wire mesh for the marine, aquaculture, security, farming and construction industries at its sole manufacturing facility in Massachusetts.

Riverdale’s marquee product, Aquamesh®, is a durable, rust proof and corrosion resistant wire mesh that is specifically designed to withstand the harshest subsea conditions. Aquamesh® is now used to build approximately 80 percent of all lobster traps fished in North America and Europe. Riverdale Mills WireWall® high security wire mesh fencing is used to protect the MIT Nuclear Reactor Lab, U.S. Embassy in Panama City, Port of San Francisco, Toyota’s manufacturing plant in Mexico, and the Vancouver Transit System.

The company is also one of the world’s leading producers of specialty PVC powder coating

The AIM International Business Council helps Massachusetts employers engage in international trade and expand their global business activities. Through seminars, referrals, and e-newsletters, the AIM International Business Council provides companies with the resources they need.  For more, visit

Attend the Global Trade Symposium

Topics: International Trade, AIM International Business Council

AIM to Honor International Business Leaders at Symposium

Posted by Kristen Rupert on Jul 20, 2016 2:33:47 PM

Associated Industries of Massachusetts (AIM) announced today that it will present its 21st annual Global Trade Awards at a new Global Trade Symposium Oct. 6 at Gillette Stadium.

Globe.jpgThe 2016 AIM Global Trade Breakfast Symposium will honor up to four Massachusetts companies, organizations or individuals for distinguished achievement in international business. The event will also bring together experts from throughout the commonwealth to discuss current issues affecting international trade.

AIM’s International Business Council has honored more than 80 companies since initiating the Global Trade Awards in 1996.

“AIM is creating a signature event that will underscore the vital role that international trade plays in the health of the Massachusetts economy,” said Richard C. Lord, President and Chief Executive Officer of AIM.

“Massachusetts is a global economic, educational and research center and AIM is delighted to honor the achievements of the people and companies that have made it that way.”

AIM is currently accepting nominations for the 2016 Global Trade Awards. Nominated companies must demonstrate that they have:

  • increased or retained jobs in Massachusetts by entering new global markets;
  • demonstrated new or creative solutions for import/export challenges;
  • produced or adapted a product line or service for foreign markets;
  • established alliances or partnerships to increase international trade; or
  • invested in infrastructure or manufacturing in Mass. to enhance trade.

Applications are reviewed and winners selected by a subcommittee of AIM’s International Business Council board.  The deadline for nominations is August 20.

Apply for a Global Trade Award

The 2015 Global Trade Awards went to water-treatment innovator Desalitech, advanced materials leader Hollingsworth & Vose Company, and Massport. Other winners throughout the years have ranged from V.H. Blackinton to Ocean Spray to Pittsfield-based Interprint.

More than 200 Massachusetts business leaders are expected to attend the October 6 Symposium, which will feature a breakfast, keynote speaker, panel discussion, and awards ceremony in the Putnam Club at Gillette Stadium. Executives from across the commonwealth will share insights on how they’ve grown their businesses internationally, what’s made Massachusetts a unique player on the global stage, and what global trade might look like in the future.      

“AIM believes that Massachusetts deserves a world-class gathering to celebrate its status as an international trade leader.” said Kristen Rupert, Executive Director of the AIM International Business Council.

“We look forward to honoring Massachusetts companies that play key roles in the global economy, offering innovative products and services produced in Massachusetts to markets across the globe.”

Topics: International Trade, AIM International Business Council

Desalitech, Hollingsworth & Vose, Massport Win 2015 AIM Global Trade Awards

Posted by Kristen Rupert on Mar 26, 2015 12:20:00 PM

A seventh-generation family owned manufacturer, an Israeli maker of water-treatment systems and the operator of Logan Airport were named winners today of the 2015 AIM International Business Council Global Trade Awards.

Hollingsworth & Vose Company of East Walpole; Desalitech, which maintains its North American headquarters in Newton; and Massport will be honored during the Associated Industries of Massachusetts Centennial Annual Meeting on May 8 in Boston.  The meeting will include a keynote address by Governor Charles D. Baker.

The Global Trade Awards, now in their twentieth year, recognize Massachusetts companies and public agencies of all sizes that have demonstrated excellence in international trade.

“Massachusetts companies are key players in the global economy, offering innovative products and services produced in Massachusetts to markets across the globe,” said Richard Lord, president and CEO of AIM.

“From providing access to overseas markets with non-stop flights from Boston to offering new environmentally sensitive technologies and products that are critical to a variety of businesses, local companies have developed strategies to be successful globally.”

2015 Global Trade Award winners are: 

Diplomat’s AwardDesalitech, Newton

DesalitechFounded in 2008 in Israel, Desalitech produces high-efficiency water treatment systems to address the global challenge of water scarcity.  The company's ReFlex (TM) Reverse Osmosis products feature patented technology that typically reduces water-treatment waste by 50-70 percent and energy consumption by up to 35 percent, saving significant operating costs for industrial and agricultural operations around the world.  Desalitech systems are used for industrial water purification by Coca Cola in Asia, consumer-product manufacturing in Mexico, and beverage production in Africa. In Singapore and Israel, Desalitech products are used for water recycling.

Ambassador’s Award - Massport, Boston

MassportMassport, an independent public aviation and port authority, owns and operates Boston Logan International Airport, Hanscom Field and Worcester Regional Airport. Logan has added 19 new international non-stop flights during the past eight years, connecting the business community with clients and prospects overseas.  New flights carry executives, tourists, university professors, hospital researchers, technology entrepreneurs and students from the commonwealth to fast-growing, emerging economies in Latin America, Asia and the Middle East.  Increased international service also makes it easier for foreign companies and executives to visit and invest in Massachusetts.

Chairman’s Award - Hollingsworth & Vose Company, East Walpole

HollingsworthHollingsworth & Vose Company is a global manufacturer of advanced materials used in filtration, battery and industrial applications.  H&V's Massachusetts-made products can be found in filters for clean rooms, hospitals, computers, commercial buildings, homes, cars, trucks and heavy duty equipment, and also in batteries used in telecom and hybrid vehicles.  Family-owned for seven generations, the company's origins can be traced back to 1728 when an "Act for the Encouragement of Papermaking" was passed by the General Court of the Massachusetts Bay Colony. The company operates 13 manufacturing plants in North America, Europe, India and China, supplying customers in over 75 countries. 

The AIM International Business Council helps Massachusetts employers engage in international trade and expand their global business activities. 

AIM 2015 Annual Meeting

Topics: International Trade, AIM International Business Council

Baked Beans + Hummus - Israel Offers Strong Market for Bay State Firms

Posted by Kristen Rupert on Jun 5, 2014 1:07:00 PM

(Editor’s note – Kristen Rupert is executive director of the AIM International Business Council.)

I was pleased to represent AIM members last week on Governor Deval Patrick's trade mission to Israel.  More than 100 Massachusetts business and government leaders joined the governor for three days of meetings to expand business ties between the commonwealth and Israel.

Israel.PatrickHere’s what you need to know about doing business with Israel:

  1. Israel is eager to do business with Massachusetts.  Israeli business leaders have a strong appetite for risk-taking and a high tolerance for failure.  They have plenty of energy to start and build companies and partnerships.
  2. There is a history of successful collaboration between Israel and Massachusetts.  Many Massachusetts companies already have a presence in Israel and a growing number of Israeli companies are setting up shop in the Bay State.  Two hundred Israeli companies representing more than 6,600 employees and 23,000 related jobs had operations in Massachusetts as of 2012, according to a recent report by Stax Inc. for the New England-Israel Business Council.  Global companies with Massachusetts headquarters—EMC, Akamai, PTC, Covidien, Kraft Companies, Philips—have made significant investments in Israel in the areas of research and development and manufacturing.
  3. Common language. Most business people in Israel speak English in addition to Hebrew or Arabic.
  4. Strong economy, young workers.  Israel’s economy is growing at a steady rate of 3-5 percent annually.  Inflation and unemployment are low.  Job creation is healthy, though more jobs are needed.   Average age of the work force is 26.
  5. Ease of doing business. The US and Israel have a strong economic and political relationship.  The Free Trade Agreement signed in 1985 eased or eliminated many barriers to trade.  The US is Israel’s largest trading partner.
  6. Compatible cultures and education. Many cultural similarities exist between Massachusetts and Israel.  Education is a priority.  On the trade mission, the University of Massachusetts established a student exchange program with The Technion University in Haifa.  At a cybersecurity seminar during the mission, I sat next to a recent Northeastern University graduate working at her second cybersecurity start-up in Israel.  At the E-Health Summit organized in Tel Aviv by the Massachusetts Technology Collaborative, I met an American-born entrepreneur whose start-up was just accepted into Harvard’s I-Lab.  The highest-ranking US diplomat in Israel, US Ambassador Daniel Shapiro, is a Brandeis University graduate, as is his wife.  The Shapiros hosted an event during the trade mission.
  7. Well-matched key industry sectors.  Israel is generally ranked number one or number two in the world in technology and innovation.  In 2013, Israel produced 1,000 new start-ups—the same number started in all of Western Europe during the same period, according to a briefing by John Medved of Our Crowd, an investor in Israeli start-ups.  Israel is strong in industries that match well with Massachusetts’ strengths: health care, life sciences, clean tech, cyber-security, medical devices, technology, semiconductor, robotics, and higher education. 
  8. Upcoming visits by Israeli business leaders - Ten Israeli start-up companies, chosen from 1,600 total applications, were recently named MassChallenge finalists for 2014.  The founders of those companies will be in residence in Boston for four months starting later this month.  Representing industries as diverse as dentistry, agriculture, food, medicine, clothing and law, these companies are eager to grow their businesses and learn from Massachusetts mentors.  In September, a group of cyber-security executives from Israel is visiting Boston, New York and Chicago.  
  9. Connections established and shared. Massachusetts leaders used the trade mission to establish and strengthen ties with Israeli government leaders, business executives, higher education administrators, entrepreneurs and venture capitalists.  Insights from the mission will be shared by participants at AIM’s upcoming “Doing Business in Israel” seminar in late June or early July.  Contact me at for introductions or information related to the trade mission.
  10. Baked beans + hummus=the right mix.  This equation was shared in a presentation by an executive of Zerto, a data disaster recovery company co-located in Boston and Israel.  Zerto founders expanded to Boston from Israel because “The Bay State has the right mix of talent, large corporate customers, loyal personnel and is in a preferred time zone.” 

Topics: International Trade, AIM International Business Council, Deval Patrick

AIM International Director Joins Trade Mission to Israel

Posted by Christopher Geehern on May 15, 2014 8:07:00 AM

Rupert.2014Kristen Rupert, Executive Director of the AIM International Business Council, and several AIM member employers will join Governor Deval Patrick May 27–June 4 for what officials say will be the largest state trade mission ever to Israel.

The governor will also visit the United Arab Emirates. 

More than 100 Bay State business executives, academic leaders and state government officials will make the trip as the administration seeks to broaden commercial ties between Massachusetts and two of the fastest-growing economies in the Middle East.
Massachusetts has become a hotbed of direct investment by Israeli companies. A recent study by the New England-Israel Business Council determined that Israeli-founded companies in Massachusetts booked $6.2 billion in revenue in the state in 2012 and employed nearly 6,700 people. The study also found that the growth rate of Israeli companies in Massachusetts is five times that of the Massachusetts economy as a whole.

The mission to Israel will center around the U.S.- Israel CONNECTED Summit, a two-day event in Tel Aviv and Herzliya that will bring together hundreds of American and Israeli business and government leaders for industry-specific discussions on medical devices, neuroscience, Internet of Things, eHealth, water tech, and cyber security. Governor Patrick will deliver the keynote address at the conference.

Some members of the Massachusetts delegation will continue on to Dubai and Abu Dhabi, where the governor will meet with leaders from the Masdar Institute of Science and Technology, UAE’s premier research university focusing on advanced energy and sustainable technologies. The mission comes several months after Emirates Airline initiated non-stop air service between Dubai and Boston.

Massport has been working for more than three years to bring direct air service from Tel Aviv to Boston. Negotiations continue.

Rupert, who has developed international business opportunities for AIM members on four previous Massachusetts trade missions, said Israel is an innovation powerhouse and an attractive market for Bay State companies interested in partnerships and exchanges of ideas and talent in a variety of industries.

“Strong connections already exist between the business and academic communities of Israel and Massachusetts, many of which were cultivated during the Governor’s previous mission to Israel in 2011,” she said.

“And the UAE, a relatively new market for Massachusetts, is focused on clean energy, technology and biosciences, which are strengths of our commonwealth.” 

Among the companies participating in the trade mission are AIM members EMC, Foley Hoag, Philips, Steward Health Care, Massachusetts General Hospital, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Pfizer, Johnson & Johnson, Biogen Idec, UMass, Mintz Levin/ML Strategies, and EMD Serono.

“Massachusetts is already a national leader in the innovation economy, but we can’t compete by looking inward,” said Governor Patrick. “This mission is a tremendous opportunity to strengthen our relationship with key global growth centers, compete for jobs on the global playing field, and position Massachusetts as the North American destination for business growth.”

Employers seeking to establish contacts either in Israel or the UAE may contact Rupert at

Topics: International Trade, AIM International Business Council, Deval Patrick

Trade Mission Uncovers Business Opportunities in Mexico

Posted by Kristen Rupert on May 8, 2014 11:53:00 AM

Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick, who led a trade mission to Central America in March, met recently with 75 Massachusetts business leaders convened by AIM to discuss trade opportunities and challenges in Mexico.

Mexico.PatrickA panel of executives from Waters Corporation, Holland & Knight LLP, Rocheleau Tool & Die, Harvest Power and Harvard Business School spoke about how to succeed in Mexico.

The US-Mexico trade relationship is strong.  More than $1 million in goods crosses the US-Mexico border every minute.  The US exports more to Mexico than to all the BRIC nations (Brazil, Russia, India and China) combined.  Nearly 18,000 US companies have operations in Mexico. 

Mexico is now the third largest—and fastest growing—market for Massachusetts exports.  Bay State companies sold $1.86 billion worth of goods and services to Mexico in 2013, trailing only Canada and China.

But that’s only half the story.  Many Mexican companies are doing business with, and in, Massachusetts.  Two of the previous three presidents of Mexico now live in Boston.  And Mexican business leaders are interested in investing in the commonwealth.

After many years of Mexican government control of key industries - particularly oil, gas, energy, mining and telecommunications - deregulation is now opening up opportunities for US businesses.  Growth potential exists in clean energy, logistics, security, infrastructure, aerospace, electronics, transportation, technology, pharmaceuticals and education.  Mexico is a sophisticated market with a need for products and services at the center of the Massachusetts economy. 

Mexico certainly faces issues: lack of clean water, high poverty levels, inconsistent educational achievement, a need for skilled workers, and security and corruption challenges.  However, progress is being made.  Fiscal reform holds great promise.  Entrepreneurship and innovation are taking hold.  Manufacturing is catching up to the US and Canada in self-sufficiency, and demographic growth and education reform are increasing worker capacity.   

Massachusetts companies are paying attention to the opportunity:

  • Rocheleau Tool & Die of Fitchburg, which manufactures machinery that makes plastic containers, has been exporting to Mexico since 1970. Massachusetts’ historic expertise in plastics has resulted in Mexican businesses seeking out companies like Rocheleau.  The company has negotiated favorable pricing for trucking its product to Mexico.
  • Harvest Power, which uses discarded yard trimmings and food scraps to produce renewable energy, found a compelling business opportunity in Mexico City.  With 25 million people, Mexico City has the largest produce market in Latin America, producing 1,000 tons a day of food waste.  Landfills are full, so waste is transported at high cost to distant locations.  Harvest Power has a Mexican partner with strong domain expertise and local contacts; their joint initiative may bring a Harvest Power anaerobic digester to Mexico soon.
  • Waters Corporation of Milford, which manufactures filters and spectrometers for the pharmaceutical and food safety industries, operates in Mexico City, Monterrey and Guadalajara. 

These employers say that face-to-face contact is critical companies looking to do business in Mexico.  Waters continuously upgrades its equipment to meet increasingly rigorous US and international regulatory requirements, and educates its customers on-site to get the most from new technologies.  Holland & Knight is pursuing a North/South America business strategy, which is why it recently acquired a full-service law firm in Mexico City.  Holland & Knight, which calls itself “bilingual and bicultural,” sees new opportunities in many industries due to recent Mexican government reforms.  Private companies can now get involved in more industry sectors.

Numerous resources are available locally for Massachusetts businesses interested in Mexico.  Mexico Consul General in Boston Daniel Hernandez Joseph, who calls Mexico “a nation of opportunities,” recently announced that Mexico is opening a trade office in Boston.  The Consul General’s office can make introductions to key people in Mexico and facilitate industry contacts.  Interested companies may also contact AIM’s Kristen Rupert, who participated in the recent trade mission to Mexico, at

Many international customers of Massachusetts companies see North America as one block.  The US-Mexico-Canada partnership represents one of the most competitive regions in the world, and an active transportation corridor exists between the US, Canada and Mexico.  There is also a shared vision among the three countries that we have mutual strengths.  Going forward, as Governor Patrick quoted, “We need to look for ways to build things together, not just buy and sell more to each other.” 

Topics: International Trade, AIM International Business Council, Deval Patrick

Ocean Spray, Blackinton, Interprint Win Global Trade Awards

Posted by Kristen Rupert on Mar 13, 2014 1:39:00 PM

An iconic Massachusetts producer of cranberries, the world’s largest manufacturer of law-enforcement badges and a German printer of home décor patterns were named winners today of the 2014 AIM International Business Council Global Trade Awards

International TradeOcean Spray Cranberries Inc. of Lakeville/Middleboro, V.H. Blackinton & Company Inc. of Attleboro Falls, and Interprint Inc. of Pittsfield, will be honored during the 2014 Associated Industries of Massachusetts Annual Meeting on May 9 in Waltham.  The meeting will include a keynote address by Jonathan Kraft, President of The Kraft Group and The New England Patriots.

“In the global marketplace, Massachusetts industry has a critical role to play; our expertise and products are respected across the world,” said Richard Lord, president and CEO of AIM.

“With more than $60 billion in imports and exports in 2013, Massachusetts companies are more innovative than ever in finding opportunities to expand beyond our local borders. Our Trade Award winners are prime examples of how Massachusetts businesses can succeed in a diverse and challenging global economy.”

The 2014 Global Trade Award winners are:

Chairman’s Award

Ocean Spray Cranberries, Inc., Lakeville/Middleboro

Ocean Spray Cranberries, Inc. is the world’s leading producer of cranberry juice, juice drinks, and dried cranberries. Since its founding in 1930 by two Massachusetts cranberry growers, the grower-owned cooperative has expanded into a global business with products sold in 90 countries. Twenty percent of total sales come from international business. The cooperative's sales have nearly doubled during the past decade to more than $2 billion. Ocean Spray exported 100 million pounds of cranberries from the United States in 2013. Ocean Spray gives back to the Massachusetts community through its process of proportionately distributing all proceeds to its grower-owners, 40 percent of whom reside in the state.

Diplomat’s Award

V.H. Blackinton & Company, Inc., Attleboro Falls

Founded in Attleboro Falls in 1852, V.H. Blackinton & Co., Inc. is the largest worldwide manufacturer of metal badges and uniform insignia for police, firefighters, security firms, the military, and the government. Blackinton’s work combines craftsmanship with cutting-edge technology. Its products are respected for their quality and design. The company’s 200 employees supply public safety agencies such as the Chicago Police Department, the U.S. Secret Service, and the U.S. Transportation Security Administration. Blackinton recently introduced a new badge security feature that uses RFID technology and color-shifting enamels to discourage counterfeiting. Nearly 15 percent of the company’s sales may be traced to markets in South America.

Ambassador’s Award

Interprint Inc., Pittsfield

Interprint, Inc. is a German-owned industrial designer and printer of décor patterns. These patterns are used as a design layer in laminate and are seen commercially in kitchen countertops, cabinets, floors, ceilings and ready-to-assemble furniture. In 2013, Interprint completed a $2 million improvement at its plant in Pittsfield, which is now equipped to produce Premeer, a unique polypropylene-based overlay product that is easy to use and cost effective. The Pittsfield location is currently the only manufacturing plant supplying Premeer for the global market. Interprint serves a variety of countries including, Canada, Mexico, the United Kingdom, Australia, Spain, and Thailand.

The AIM International Business Council helps Massachusetts employers engage in international trade and expand their global business activities.

Topics: AIM Annual Meeting, International Trade, AIM International Business Council

AIM Executive Joins State Trade Mission to Panama, Mexico

Posted by Christopher Geehern on Mar 10, 2014 12:41:00 PM

Kristen Rupert, Executive Director of the AIM International Business Council, will be the sole representative of the private sector to accompany Governor Deval Patrick on a trade mission to Mexico and Panama March 17-22, the administration announced this morning.

Massachusetts Trade MissionState officials say the mission will bring together leaders in government and business to strengthen existing relationships and build new ones with the emerging innovation economies of Panama City and Mexico City.

The last Massachusetts trade mission to Mexico occurred in 1999, when then Lt. Governor Jane Swift led a delegation to Mexico City and Monterrey on behalf of Governor Paul Cellucci.

Rupert has previously joined Massachusetts trade missions to Brazil, Colombia and Canada. She has used all of the trips to help AIM member companies identify market opportunities and make connections with potential business and research partners.

“My experience has been that nothing replaces face-to-face contact in trying to establish connections in a new export market. The governor also has the unique ability to open doors for commercial relationships,” Rupert said.

“AIM members benefit from these missions, and numerous companies have seen tangible results. My job is to represent AIM member companies that might not be able to participate but still have an interest in exporting.”

Mexico is the number two destination for all United States goods exports ($226 billion in 2013), outranked only by Canada.   Already a viable manufacturing alternative to China for US firms, Mexico has parleyed a skilled workforce and proximity to the U.S. into a steady growth in GDP since 2010.

Rupert says investment opportunities exist in Mexico for Massachusetts companies in the clean energy, waste management, water innovation and general infrastructure sectors.  Improving access to clean water for Mexican citizens is a priority for the government, and there is strong interest in increasing energy capacity from solar, wind and biomass, while decreasing dependence on fossil fuels.

In a February 2013 New York Times op-ed, Tom Friedman predicted, “Mexico will become a more dominant economic power than China or India in this century.”  Even if wide of the mark, Friedman’s bet suggests that Mexico, with which the US shares the world’s busiest border, is rising in prominence and influence:

  • Mexico is Massachusetts’ third largest export commodities destination, behind Canada and China.
  • Massachusetts exports to Mexico have increased steadily over the past few years, totaling $1.9 billion in 2013. 
  • Massport has identified Mexico City as one of the top priority destinations for direct air service to and from Boston.

Massachusetts also shares a strong relationship with Panama, a relationship that has grown since COPA Airlines added a non-stop flight from Logan Airport to Panama City in 2012.  Massachusetts last year imported approximately $4.34 million worth of goods and services from Panama while exporting approximately $22.5 million worth of goods and services back to the Central American nation.

In Panama, the governor and the delegation will meet with Dr. Ruben Berrocal, Panama’s Minister of Science, the Panamanian Chamber of Information Technology and Communications, officials who oversee the Panama Canal, and innovation leaders in Panama’s “City of Knowledge.” The Panama Canal is currently undergoing an expansion that, once complete, will potentially double the inputs and outputs through the Conley Container Terminal in South Boston.

“Lasting growth in the 21st century global economy will come from our competitiveness in global markets and opening up Massachusetts to the markets where we share strengths,” Governor Patrick said. “The leaders in business and government and venture capitalists of Latin America’s growth centers are eager to collaborate with us because they recognize that Massachusetts is an innovation hub with a disciplined strategy for growth.”

Topics: International Trade, AIM International Business Council, Deval Patrick

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