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WTCSD In the News

December 13, 2013


Australia New Zealand Business Mission Set by WTCSD

                    February four-city visits available for regional businesses

SAN DIEGO, CALIF. - DECEMBER 12, 2013 - The World Trade Center San Diego has announced a four-city business mission to Australia and New Zealand scheduled for February 9 through 17, 2014; all registrations must be received by January 3.

Companies with an interest in doing business in Australia and New Zealand are invited to register to visit one or more of these cities: Auckland, Brisbane, Melbourne and Sydney. Meetings with leading companies can assist San Diego businesses to expand.

The San Diego Regional Airport Authority has signed on as the sponsor for this upcoming mission. “The Airport Authority is pleased to be a partner in this trade mission aimed at establishing deeper economic links between San Diego and the vital markets of Australia, New Zealand and greater Oceania,” said Thella F. Bowens, President/CEO of the San Diego County Regional Airport Authority.

Delegates will receive a pre-mission trade and market information manual. Group breakfasts will include market briefings with local experts. Four pre-scheduled match-making meetings with individually-chosen contacts will be arranged, and evening group networking receptions with contacts of interest will be held.

 The markets in Australia and New Zealand have many similarities to California, and they value U.S. products and services highly,” said Hugh Constant, Executive Vice President and Trade Services Director of the World Trade Center San Diego. “For San Diego companies that wish to expand their business there, WTCSD will first research and identify the best potential business partners in each of the four cities to be visited, and then pre-schedule at least four individual match-making meetings with the best prospects during the day. Any prospects that delegates did not have time to meet during the day will be invited to join the evening networking reception in each city.”

Price is $1,000 for each city ($900 for WTCSD and Cooperator members), and arrangements can include a second participant from the same company for an additional $350. All group airport-hotel-airport ground transport is included. The registration deadline is Friday, January 3, 2014 and complete payment is required by January 8.

For more information or to sign up for the mission, please contact Hugh Constant, Executive Vice President World Trade Center San Diego at and phone 619.615.0868 x103



The J Sherlock Group, marketing & public relations

Janice Sherlock

619 467-7428

World Trade Center San Diego Announces Leadership Change                                                                                  
Board Appoints Interim CEO

SAN DIEGO, CALIF. undefined NOVEMBER 26, 2013 undefined The World Trade Center San Diego today announced the appointment of Samuel R. Kephart as interim President and Chief Executive Officer. He succeeds Steven W. Weathers who announced his resignation, effective December 4, for personal reasons.

WTCSD provides comprehensive research, international trade services, and key introductions to facilitate and expand business opportunities for regional and worldwide business members and corporate clients. Operating under the World Trade Centers Association headquartered in New York City, WTCSD is able to leverage contacts and databases in over 100 countries and 330 global markets, providing direct access to the largest international trade network in the world.

“We are excited to have Mr. Kephart’s global perspective on business and his creative skills to help “Grow Trade” in the San Diego region,” noted Stephen G. Austin, Chairman of the Board of Directors. “Sam has successfully led the new strategies for expanding our reach. He has an excellent team and Board to work with while continuing to make the WTCSD an effective business facilitator.”

Kephart, 63, has served as the VP of Marketing for the organization since July of this year when he was brought in to assist with branding, marketing, and creating new sources of strategic revenue. He is a veteran sales and media executive, who has run his own consulting firm for the last 10 years. He attended UCSD’s Muir College and completed his BBA at National University. As president of Global Factors, Inc., an export management company (EMC) trading in specialty chemicals in the mid ‘70s, Kephart became a Charter Member of the San Diego World Trade Association, the region’s first formal international business network. He has presided as both president and chairman of the San Diego Digital Multimedia Association, which represented 140 companies in the digital content production and distribution fields. Kephart has also worked in the security, television production, and real estate tax consulting industries.


WTCSD is a formal private-public partnership established in 1994 with the City of San Diego, the Unified Port of San Diego, and the San Diego County Regional Airport Authority. Governed by a board of directors that include 45 of San Diego’s top international business professionals, community leaders, educators, and government officials, it operates as a 501(C)6 non-profit corporation. With over 2 million affiliated businesses, it is one of the largest professional associations in the world.

The WTCSD’s Annual Business Meeting, “Breakfast Atop the City” is scheduled for Friday, December 6th from 7:30 to 10 a.m. at the University Club, 750 B Street, No. 3400, San Diego, 92101. This annual event attracts international executives, entrepreneurs, and visionaries from private, community, and political sectors to celebrate San Diego’s growing place on the global stage. It provides the opportunity to network with members of the newly-elected Board of Directors, outgoing Board Members, and fellow WTC members and investors. The public is invited to attend, prices are $35 for members, and $45 for non-members. Call (619) 615-0868 or register at





The J Sherlock Group, marketing & public relations

Janice Sherlock


May 13, 2013

Matt Confer, Director, Marketing & Communications, +1 619 615.0868 x109 
Sarah Lubeck, Marketing Coordinator, +1 619 234.8484 

San Diego Punching Below Its Weight in Exports

“It’s clear to us we are a global city,” said City of San Diego Mayor Bob Filner as he kickedoff apress conference and town hall on May 13. Its focus was the need for the San Diego region to increase 

export activity in order to grow jobs and economic prosperity. It may be clear to San Diego, but it might not be clear to the rest of the world. He's out to change that perception and at the same time create more of the middle class jobs that were once the backbone of the San Diego economy. "We have not fulfilled our potential," he said, adding that we have the political will to change.

Each speaker commented on the findings of a market assessment that was the catalyst for the gathering. The market assessment is the first key step in the Brookings Metropolitan Export Initiative, a program focused on helping eight regions create collaborations from the ground up to design and implement customized metropolitan export plans.

City of San Diego City Councilman Mark Kersey pointed out that San Diego has lots of advantages other areas don’t have, such as our technology sectors.

Michael Masserman, from the U.S. International Trade Administration came to offer his agency’s support which includes opening markets for exports and entering into trade agreements to facilitate exports. “Jobs in export-oriented companies pay 15 – 20 percent higher wages that their non-exporting counterparts,” said Masserman.

Elliott Hirshman, president of San Diego State University, discussed the importance of international engagement in educating the workforce of the future citing a substantial increase in international programs at San Diego State.

Peter Cowhey, dean of the School of International Relations and Pacific Studies at UC San Diego, presented highlights from the market assessment. Cowhey, along with two of his graduate students, was responsible for conducting the survey and collecting the data for the market assessment. “San Diego is punching well below our weight,” said Cowhey, pointing out that although San Diego is the country’s 17th largest metropolitan economy, we rank only 55th when examining exports as a share of our regional economic output.

The market assessment revealed that San Diego’s exporters see a need for infrastructure development in three major areas: port, airport and cyber infrastructure.

Bob Nelson, vice chair of the board of port commissioners, agreed that if the region is going to see growth in exports then we need to see growth in infrastructure. The Port has in the works infrastructure improvements worth close to $100 million.

Robert Gleason, board chair of the San Diego County Regional Airport Authority, said that San Diego International Airport has a critical role to play in increasing export activity. That includes additional international non-stop service and increasing cargo capacity. An added benefit of more international visitors (which are also considered exports) is that they typically spend almost double what a domestic visitor spends on a trip.

Steven Weathers, president and CEO of World Trade Center San Diego, an organization that provides direct services to exporting companies, said that many people ask him, “What’s the big goal?” His answer? “Job creation – sustainable, diverse, job creation.”

Photo: Steve Weathers, President & CEO, World Trade Center San Diego

Access the full report: San Diego Metropolitan Export Initiative Market Assessment 

Fast Facts: San Diego Metropolitan Export Initiative Executive Summary 

Expert Statements: Hear What San Diego's Regional Experts Have to Say

Media coverage 

Region needs to boost exporting, report saysU-T San Diego
Local leaders push boosting tradeThe Daily Transcript  
San Diego could be exporting more, Brookings Institution reports, KPBS


April 15, 2013

Lynn Híjar, Director, Latin America Desk, +1 619 615.0868 x118
Matt Confer, Director, Marketing & Communications, +1 619 615.0868 x109

WTC San Diego Launches Latin America Desk to Facilitate Trade in the Americas

SAN DIEGO, CA, USA - We are pleased to announce the launch of World Trade Center San Diego’s (WTCSD) Latin America Desk. The recent establishment of US Trade Agreements with several Latin American countries has significantly reduced the cost of doing business for US companies in the Latin American markets. With San Diego’s geographic location adjacent to the US/Mexico border, San Diego companies have a tremendous advantage in international trade.

The Latin America Desk will assist San Diego regional companies increase their competitiveness and better position themselves for Latin American market success. Lead by Director, Lynn Híjar, with extensive background in Latin American trade, international protocol and policy, and a native of Mexico City.  The department team acts as a facilitator for multi-national and border business activity throughout the 23 Latin American markets.

Programs offered include:  informational seminars, conferences, luncheons, and round-table meetings all with emphasis on networking and connecting the international business community. Business consulting services offered include: trade counseling, lead-generation, market analysis and entry strategies. In addition to local resources for companies interested in doing business with Latin American markets, the Latin America Desk leads multiple trade missions abroad to markets of interest to expedite business between San Diego regional business and the target market. 

Assisted by the International Relations Office (IRO), the department hosts in-bound delegations from Latin American countries interested in trade with San Diego. Regional companies can take advantage of international delegations while in San Diego through networking functions, match-making meetings, and informational seminars. The inflow of investment and visitors brings opportunities for companies and organizations in and around the San Diego region.

The Latin America Desk leverages the knowledge of the WTCSD having organized more than 30 trade missions to countries around the world, including: Mexico, China, Japan, India and Chile. A trade mission to Brazil Fall 2013 will be announced later this year.

To learn more about the Latin America Desk, its services, programs, and sponsorship opportunities, please contact Lynn Híjar, Director, Latin America Desk at: or +1 619 615 0868 x 118


November 15, 2012 

Matt Confer, WTC San Diego, (619) 215-9966 
Bruce Hueners, Chair, WTC San Diego Board of Directors, (619) 615-0868 



SAN DIEGO – Steven W. Weathers, currently President & CEO of the Savannah, GA Economic Development Authority and former Vice President of the San Diego Regional Economic Development Corp., has been tapped to be the next President/CEO of the World Trade Center San Diego (WTCSD). 

WTCSD Board Chairman Bruce Hueners announced that the Board approved his selection at its Nov. 14 meeting. Weathers assumes the position effective immediately, but will use the Thanksgiving break to relocate from Savannah.

“We are fortunate to have someone with Steve’s spot-on experience, background, drive and commitment to succeed Bella Heule,” Hueners said. “With his extensive, nationwide experience in economic development, as well as intimate knowledge of San Diego, we are confident he will take the organization to the next level and benefit our entire region.” 

In his most recent position as President & CEO of the Savannah EDA, Weathers also founded and headed the World Trade Center Savannah, modeled on the WTCSD. Prior to that, he was President & CEO of the Savannah Regional Growth Partnership, President & CEO of the Greater Tucson Economic Council, and, from 1990 to 2001, VP of the San Diego Regional Economic Development Corp. 

“While it is a humbling challenge to succeed Bella Heule, whose energy and vision over the past decade made the World Trade Center here what it is today, I am excited to build on her success and assume the reins of an organization in such a solid position,” said Weathers.

Heule accepted a position as Vice President of the global World Trade Centers Association in July. Since then, Hugh Constant has served as interim President/CEO. 

“We are also incredibly fortunate to have had Hugh’s steady leadership during this transition period,” Hueners added. “Hugh assumed the interim responsibilities on top of everything he does as Executive Vice President and Trade Services Director, and did a laudable job.”

Weathers began his career in securities and banking before joining the San Diego Regional Economic Development Corp. He has a B.A. in economics from California State University, Chico, and earned certifications in economic development from the California Association of Local Economic Developers, San Diego State University and the International Economic Development Council. He was also an adjunct instructor at the University of Arizona, teaching undergraduate and graduate courses in economic development. 

His wife, Veronica, and daughter will relocate to San Diego next spring. 

About World Trade Center San Diego 
World Trade Center San Diego (WTCSD) is a non-profit trade association that provides comprehensive international business services and key global contacts to facilitate and expand trade for regional worldwide clients. Leveraging its global network of World Trade Centers and affiliate partners, WTCSD is the proven forum for international information, communications and connections. WTCSD is licensed by the World Trade Centers Association (WTCA) in New York City and is affiliated with an international network of over 1 million international members and patrons. For more information, please visit us at


July 20, 2012

Contact:          Bruce Hueners, Chair, WTC San Diego Board of Directors, (619) 615-0868


World Trade Center San Diego President/CEO Named Vice President of World Trade Centers Association in New York

SAN DIEGO – Bella Heule, for the past 10 years President/CEO of the World Trade Center San Diego (WTCSD), has been appointed Vice President of the World Trade Centers Association (WTCA) in New York.  She will assume her new position on July 30. WTCA is the international association of nearly 330 world trade centers in nearly 100 countries around the world.  It is marking a major leadership milestone, as it also appointed Eric R. Dahl as new Chief Executive Officer effective July 30.  Dahl will succeed WTCA Founder and only President, Guy Tozzoli.

“This is a tremendous and well deserved opportunity for Bella,” said Bruce W. Hueners, chair of the Board of Directors of the WTCSD.  “While we will miss her, she leaves the organization in an exceptionally strong position – financially stable, privileged with an exceptional staff and strong Board, and with great positive momentum.”

WTCSD’s Board of Directors will take up the issue of Heule’s succession at its next meeting, July 25.

Heule will become the first woman in a senior leadership position with the WTCA and the first to have had hands-on experience running world trade centers.  Her leadership was recognized in August when she received the World Trade Week 20120 Bronze Plaque Award from the Los Angeles Chamber of Commerce.  Previous recipients of the award include Walt Disney, Jack Warner and Tom Bradley.

Heule has served on the WTCA Board of Directors for the past 10 years.

Prior to joining the WTCSD in 2002, she was Executive Vice President of the WTC Los Angeles and the WTC Long Beach for three years.  She is a graduate of the Ecole de Commerce de Neuchatel, Switzerland, and a dual citizen of the United States and Switzerland.  In addition to English, Heule is fluent in German, Swiss-German and French.

“We know what an enormously effective and respected leader Bella is,” Hueners added. “During a tough economic cycle, Bella made sure the WTCSD survived and thrived.

“The only independent World Trade Center in California, WTCSD is recognized as a model among the world trade centers around the globe,” he said.  “WTCSD has benefitted greatly from a decade of Bella’s leadership and energy.  Now the WTCA will benefit from her unmatched commitment and experience.  And I am confident that this will further enhance the status of the WTCSD, as well as the entire San Diego region.”


WORLD TRADE CENTER San Diego (WTCSD) is a non-profit trade association that provides comprehensive international trade services and key global contacts to facilitate and expand trade for regional worldwide clients. Leveraging its global network of World Trade Centers and affiliate partners, WTCSD is the proven forum for international information, communications and connections. WTCSD is licensed by the World Trade Centers Association (WTCA) in New York City and is affiliated with an international network of over 1 million international members and patrons. For more information, please visit us at


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