Last week, I attended the 2014 International Consortium for Education and Economic Development conference hosted by Saddleback College, Santa Ana College and Santiago Canyon College. This subject of this year’s conference was, “Trilateral Collaboration: Fostering Partnerships Between Education and Industry Leaders.”
The International Consortium for Educational and Economic Development was formed in 1992, when representatives from Mexico’s CONALEP and 16 U.S. Community Colleges signed a historic agreement to create a consortium of technical and community colleges, in Canada, Mexico and the United States to foster active partnerships between colleges in the three countries.
At the conference, I joined my local colleagues Dr. Erlina Martinez, President of Santa Ana College, Dr. John Weispfenning, President of Santiago Canyon College and Dr. Raul Rodriguez, Chancellor of the Rancho Santiago Community College District to share remarks on the roles our colleges and Orange County play in education and economic development. We also had the opportunity to hear about CTE workforce needs, how to connect students with jobs using technology, connecting the business community to the classroom, and hearing from alumni of the community college system now working in Orange County.
On Thursday, December 4, I had the pleasure of addressing the conference attendees. Below are my remarks:
Thank you for inviting me to say a few words along with several of my esteemed colleagues. And thank you for choosing to hold this year’s conference in Orange County.
We are thrilled that you are here because Orange County is one of our nation’s hubs for international activity.
Did you know that if Orange County was a country, it’s Gross Domestic Product of $197 billion would make it the 45th largest economy in the world, just ahead of Singapore, and the 15th largest region in the United States.
But size is just one advantage. Orange County’s demographics and geographic location provide us with very distinct advantages regarding international trade:
- Close to the Ports of Long Beach and Los Angeles.
- And close to several airports including Los Angeles, Santa Ana, Long Beach, Ontario, and San Diego.
- We have well-connected freeway and road systems for trucking and rail lines providing national trade linkages.
- Large and growing presence of an ethnically and culturally diverse population providing key contacts for international linkages.
- World class public and private educational systems producing one of the world’s most educated, trained, and talented workforces.
- Large, diverse, and competitive business and industry sectors including manufacturing, healthcare, technology, travel and tourism, and many more.
Combine these significant advantages with our rapidly growing trade relationships with growing economies such as China, Japan, South Korea, Mexico, and Canada, and Orange County is the place to be for global trade.
According to the California State University, Fullerton’s 2013 Orange County and Southern California International Trade Forecast, in 2011 exports accounted for about 13% of the county’s Gross Metropolitan Product. This was up from 9.5% of GMP in 2010.
The two most dominant export sectors for the county were Computer and Electronic Products and Transportation Equipment. These two sectors alone generated close to 45.8% of all Orange County exports in 2011.
Overall, International Trade has been one of Orange County’s strongest growth industries. Despite a significant decline in 2009 due to the impacts of the great recession, Orange County exports rebounded in 2010 by 22% and an additional 20% in 2011. In fact, Orange County exports in 2011 were estimated to reach an all-time high of $24.6 billion and are expected to reach close to $30 billion by the end of 2014.
In 2012, the leading destination for Orange County exports was Mexico with $6 billion dollars in exports followed by Canada with $2.8 billion. It is important to note that exports to Mexico have more than doubled since the recession, rising from $2.4 billion in 2009.
Just as importantly, over this period China has surpassed Japan as the third largest destination country, with China’s $2.4 billion in exports just below Canada’s $2.8 billion. The next two largest recipients of the county’s exports were in Asia: Japan with $1.9 billion and South Korea with $1.0 billion.
As you can see, Orange County’s global trade is vibrant and accounts for a significant share of our nation’s gross national product.
Also as you can see, our nine stellar community colleges, University of California, Irvine, California State University, Fullerton, Chapman University, and high-ranking K-12 systems are driving most of our county’s workforce training and education preparation, positioning Orange County as one of the world’s leading hubs of international activity and economic development.
Again, thank you for holding the International Consortium for Educational and Economic Development annual conference in Orange County, and we look forward to working with you and our international partners in spurring economic growth and prosperity.”
Dr. Tod Burnett, Ed. D.