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Saturday, Jun 10, 2023

Pierce Center to Become Chief Liaison for Business in Iraq

After only a year and a half in existence, the International Business Center located at Pierce College, has started to make waves in the local business community. In the last two weeks, the center has announced a flurry of activity, reflecting the changing nature of the institution. Most notably, the center inked a deal making it the chief United States representative for the Iraqi-American Chamber of Commerce International. According to Bert Sanchez, a professor of International Trade and Marketing at Pierce, and the director of the International Business Center, the agreement will allow the IBC to become the chief liaison between the chamber and small to medium-sized businesses across the nation. “American businesses currently don’t have any way to go through and makes business deals in Iraq. They simply don’t now what’s happening there,” Sanchez said. “The Iraqi-American Chamber of Commerce International has 100 employees in Baghdad. We will allow U.S. businesses to sell to Iraqis and we put them in touch with the Iraqi Chamber. We will be a virtual center at Pierce and in turn, they would provide an increased staff for me at the center. Eventually, we’ll open an office in Washington D.C.” For the past year the center has worked in conjunction with the United States Department of Commerce, which sends a representative to work at the college, several times per week. In honor of their achievements in helping local businesses expand their exporting capabilities abroad, the center was honored May 25, with its first-ever award, one issued by the United States Department of Commerce and the United States Commercial Service. The award was presented by Mary Delmege, the Western Regional Director for the United States Commercial Service, to Tim Liver, the vice president of administration for Pierce and to Sanchez. Additionally, the IBC also announced a name-change from its original moniker, the International Trade Center. According to Sanchez, the switch reflects a broader focus for the center. “The name was unofficially changed about two weeks ago. We did this because we are now handling more than trade. We are handling companies that are trying to do investments. It demonstrates a more broad emphasis,” Sanchez said. As the center’s role has evolved, Sanchez claims that its traffic has increased, as it currently consults with approximately three to four different Valley exporters each week. Barry Soltani, the president of the Encino-based exporter, the Talisman Capital Group, attests to the benefits that his company has seen from working with the IBC. “The IBC provides a resource to bring together people who have direct experience in making export companies successful. The IBC has helped hundreds of companies sell their products internationally,” Soltani said. “They are particularly useful for smaller firms that don’t have the infrastructure, manpower, or knowledge to successfully close deals without a bit of help.” Richard Bertram, the founder of Sylmar-based environmental products manufacturer, says that his company, Linabond Inc., has also benefited from the center’s efforts. “The people at Pierce made the export process much clearer for us. They saved us so many weeks of time that we would’ve spent investigating the process,” Bertram said. “We needed people to give us answers and they did that. They helped us with the sort of export questions that you can’t flip through a book for the answers. You need people like the IBC, who have a lot of experience and really know the ropes.”

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