If Christopher J. Brescia has his way, social conversations among Maryland business leaders will soon turn from the Eastern Shore and the Baltimore Orioles to export opportunities in Paris, Bonn and Tokyo.
Brescia, 39, a trade adviser in the Carter administration and on Capitol Hill from 1979 to 1983, ended seven years as a consultant with Price Waterhouse this month to become the first executive director of the Maryland World Trade Center Institute.
Gov. William Donald Schaefer last year created the institute, housed in the World Trade Center building at the Inner Harbor in Baltimore, as a private-sector counterpart to the Maryland International Division, a government agency that promotes foreign trade.
MID Director Eric Feldmann said Brescia, who also is president of the Washington International Trade Association, was chosen to head the institute because of his experience with corporate business as well as government.
"His track record shows he can work with the CEOs of major corporations," Feldmann said of Brescia. "He can keep one foot in the private sector and one foot in the public domain."
Brescia said he will canvass the local business community during the next two months for ideas on programs and seminars to teach companies about export opportunities.
"We want to bring to the business community an awareness and a consciousness of how developments in the world marketplace affect them as a company and affects their strategic competitiveness for the future," Brescia said.
Collaboration between business and state government has increased recently with growing opportunities overseas and a reduced federal commitment to promoting exports on the local level, said Stephen D. Cohen, a professor at American University's School of International Service."It has hit home on a state and local level that there is money to be made and jobs to be created on the export side," Cohen said. "A joint venture, in effect, between the business community and state government is really, to me, the only effective organizational way to do it."
The National Governors Association (NGA) also promotes cooperation between the private and public sectors, NGA senior policy analyst Judy Thomas said, as a way of "making the most of your resources and putting them in the places where they can have the most benefit."
Increasing trade has been a longstanding priority for Schaefer, who has met with foreign business leaders in the Middle East, Europe and the Soviet Union this year and will travel to Scandinavia next week.
Exports of Maryland products reached $2.75 billion in 1989, up from $1.15 billion in 1984. This year, Feldmann said his division has received 30 percent more requests from companies for assistance in starting export programs.
The World Trade Center Institute will work to promote growth by pooling resources and knowledge about exports and trade that now exist in various parts of the state, Brescia said, and by providing new information and contacts through its own programs.
As executive director, he must search for private-sector money to augment $800,000 in state funds through 1991 and ease the institute's transition to a self-supporting entity, he said.
"My method of building this organization is to start small and let it grow, to gradually get into the marketplace," Brescia said. "No different than if I was establishing a regular company. We will be filling a market demand."