Global Trade & Technology Center: Harlem?s gateway to international business

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If you want to do business overseas, need a career change or new job, check out the Global Trade & Technology Center (www.gttc.us), Harlem?s gateway to international business. The Center can train you for a job that pays $40,000 to more than $75,000 in a trade-related area such as customs brokering, freight forwarding, hazardous materials shipping and logistics. ?We have a young man, a licensed engineer who worked for AT&T and Lucent, now earning over $100,000 a year as a licensed customs broker,? says Myles Matthews, the center?s president. ?Companies are contacting the schools, begging for the resumes of the potential employees we have in training.?

Job growth in the export-import industry is second to none, says Matthews, who also is chairman and CEO of Phone Home Technologies Inc., an aerospace, information technology and telecommunications services provider. Using statistics from the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey to show more than 235,000 vacancies in trade-related capacities in the New York-northern New Jersey area alone, the center won approval under the federal Workforce Investment Act to retrain individuals to help fill these vacancies. It now offers courses at eight colleges in the two states. ?You can?t outsource these jobs. I can?t take care of India?s Customs Service no more than India can take care of mine,? Matthews says.

Trainees receive a voucher for from $2,500 to $4,000 to pay for the certification courses after completing the requisite paperwork at one of New York?s Workforce Career Centers (www.workforcenewyork.org/onestops.htm) or New Jersey?s One Stop Career Centers (http://wnjpin.state.nj.us). Applicants go through a 12-week process to qualify for the voucher, after which comes 18 to 20 weeks of training. The center is required to place students in jobs within 90 days after graduation. ?We?ve placed 100 percent of our students while they are still in school. The only people we haven?t placed are those who refused the jobs because of traveling requirements,? says Matthews.

Established in 2003 to carry on the dream of the unrealized Harlem International Trade Center, the center is a not-for-profit organization dedicated to educating small and medium-size businesses about opportunities in the global marketplace, promoting the export of goods and services from these businesses and training individuals for trade-related careers. It is located on the 11th floor of the landmark Adam Clayton Powell Jr. Building on 125th Street, in the very building initially intended to house the Harlem International Trade Center, but which is now better known as the home of former President Clinton?s
private offices.

Supported by the U.S. Department of Commerce and the U.S. Harlem Export Assistance Center, the center also promotes business and cultural exchanges between developing countries and minority communities in the United States. On May 1, for example, Black entrepreneurs packed Sylvia?s Restaurant in Harlem to hear Governor Paulo Ganen Souto of Bahia, Brazil, outline his plans to attract business investment and tourism to his state. Bahia, the governor told his audience, is the Black capital of the country with the largest Black population outside Africa.

During World Trade Week (May 16-20), the center co-hosted, with other local organizations, a series of conferences on doing business in Africa, Asia, Latin America and Eastern Europe. ?It?s a growing marketplace and it needs people of color and bilingual people, because the world?s business and its politics are changing,? Matthews says. More African-Americans need to take advantage of the center?s services, he says.