By Melissa Maguire, Manager of International Engagement, Dallas Regional Chamber
It’s been more than a month since the conclusion of #DFWEurope2018, the international mission to London and Paris.
Perhaps the lateness of this blog entry is a testament to the work we poured into our trip, which involved dozens of meetings in Paris and London between government and business leaders. By all standards, our mission to Europe was a success.
MONDAY – JUNE 18: Strengthening, Building Trade Ties in London
We kicked off the week with back-to-back briefings for the delegation, which included Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings, Fort Worth Mayor Betsy Price, and representatives from the Dallas Regional Chamber, the Fort Worth Chamber, VisitDallas, and Visit Fort Worth. These backgrounder sessions were designed to help the delegation understand the economics and politics of the United Kingdom, as well as British consumer and tourism trends. We held a similar overview in Paris, to impart the same information about France.
Following the briefings, the delegation held an informal meeting with David Mytton, a co-founder and CEO of Server Density, a London-based tech company recently acquired by Dallas-based StackPath. It’s always fascinating to learn about the various international acquisitions made by DFW and international companies, especially given that the majority of new foreign direct investment into the U.S. occurs via acquisitions. We try to meet with Dallas-Fort Worth-acquired companies such as Server Density as often as possible while traveling, to learn ways to support business transitions locally.
Another big business event occurring on Monday was a BREXIT-focused seminar, hosted by our friends at London & Partners, London Mayor Sadiq Khan’s combined chamber of commerce and convention and visitor’s bureau.
The BREXIT panel featured a managing director from Boston Consulting Group; L&P’s own managing director of business; Alastair Paterson, CEO and co-founder of a British cybersecurity Digital Shadows, and the previous leader of the Remain campaign, which encouraged people and leaders to vote against the BREXIT referendum so the U.K. could remain in the European Union. The variety of perspectives and industries represented made for a captivating and informative session, but the overarching takeaway from the panel was this: leaving the EU will have far-reaching impacts on:
- immigrants and EU citizens residing in the U.K.;
- business with supply chains and employees across the Union; and
- international businesses looking to make the U.K. their entry point into other European markets.
The day wrapped up with a fantastic event hosted by VisitDallas and Visit Fort Worth – a tourism-focused party hosted to promote the Dallas-Fort Worth Region as a tourist destination to British travel agencies, air service providers, excursion organizers, hoteliers, hospitality consultants, etc.
Firestone & Robertson Distilling Co., the beloved Fort Worth-based makers of TX Whiskey, stocked the bar with delicious custom cocktails featuring their signature blend, while celebrity chef Tim Love – known for such Fort Worth establishments as Lonesome Dove and the Love Shack – left everyone with the best party favors ever: small jars of create-your-own spice blends. (I was happy to let Tim create a perfect pork chop blend on my behalf!)
VisitDallas also wowed party guests with the award-winning Moving Cities, produced by London-based videographer Jevan Chowdhury, and goofy goggles that let people explore Dallas using virtual reality.
TUESDAY – JUNE 19: Scaling-Up with London Mayor Khan and Balfour Beatty
Tuesday in London was equally successful, starting with a well-attended networking roundtable to support and promote Mayor Khan’s Mayor’s International Business Programme, which helps London “scale-up” companies to expand internationally. With 18 scale-ups in attendance, our delegates had a unique opportunity to meet directly with the companies pushing London’s global entrepreneurship scene forward.
I’d like to offer a major shout-out to Balfour Beatty’s London HQ, which provided tremendous support for the event and really pulled off the roundtable flawlessly. Thanks for going above and beyond, Giles, Bryan, and Kata!
Oh, and if you need something to make you smile today…
Tuesday evening consisted of back-to-back meetings and dinners for delegates. Some members of the delegation met with Transport for London, the administrative group responsible for all of London’s transportation systems – from the Underground to the above-ground rail and road networks. As Dallas-Fort Worth’s regional population grows by approximately 140,000 people each year, updating, expanding, and innovating our transportation infrastructure becomes more important than ever. We look to our international counterparts to learn a thing or two about moving large groups of people.
THURSDAY – JUNE 20: Reaching Out in Paris; at Home with Louis Vuitton
We began our busiest day in Paris with another country and economy overview, as we did in London on Monday.
While some significant (and highly confidential) meetings and lunches took place in Paris on Thursday to promote the Dallas-Fort Worth region as a key market for French business expansion and to recruit new operations to the region, perhaps the highlight of the day was one that we, as a delegation, were all-too-keen to share about on social media: our private, guided tour of the original Louis Vuitton home and workshop, where Louis began making his signature travel trunks, and where they continue to be made today.
From step one, you can tell that every Louis Vuitton trunk, bag, box, and custom piece is handcrafted with quality in mind. We were privileged to see the entire crafting process from beginning to end, starting with raw fabrics and skins, and ending with final nails, studs, and stitches. We also got to see the “reject” pile of items that didn’t pass muster, including a gorgeous handbag with one small stitch amiss, and a trunk whose metal corner was slightly curved the wrong way. Many offers were made to take the misfit pieces home with us, but the Louis Vuitton representative giving our tour was clear: if it isn’t perfect, it isn’t Louis Vuitton.
At the end of our tour, we each received a small gift from the workshop – a tiny ¾” nail with LOUIS VUITTON engraved on the head. The tour made our delegation very proud to soon welcome a new Louis Vuitton workshop in Keene, just south of Fort Worth.
The evening wrapped up with another amazing cultural event, coordinated by the Kimbell Art Museum in Fort Worth – a reception and free admission to the stunning Musée d’Orsay, which houses art by Van Gogh, Monet, Czanne, Renoir, Seurat, and others. Of all the art museums I’ve seen around the world, the Orsay remains my favorite.
FRIDAY, JUNE 21: Meeting with Kay Bailey Hutchison, Touring Station F
Friday saw the group split, as the mayors and select representatives from the airport and chambers headed to Brussels for a tour of the NATO headquarters and a meeting with Senator-turned-Ambassador Kay Bailey Hutchison, now serving as Permanent Representative of the United States to NATO.
The remainder of the group stayed behind in Paris, with a few catching flights back to DFW and the rest touring Station F, the world’s largest startup campus by square footage. Our tour guide walked us through the three phases of the building, from the meeting space, to the coworking space, to the “Chill Zone” – a massive restaurant incubator open to the public and featuring a variety of delicious eateries all under one roof, similar to a farmer’s market.
The massive campus is still backed by its founder, French billionaire Xavier Niel, who provided the initial $300 million investment to get the campus up and running, and who envisioned the space as a fully self-sufficient, self-contained entrepreneurial community offering support for every step of the startup process. Our visit to the bright, colorful, modern center was inspiring; Station F is perhaps one of the best examples of what innovative thinking actually looks like in practice.
SATURDAY – JUNE 22: Wrapping it up
By the time our last delegate left Paris, we had already packed up and shipped out the last of our mission supplies back to DFW. The day saw relative calm after a furiously paced week of meetings, seminars, panels, roundtables, receptions, meals, and tours. Brain dead, and physically fatigued in a way I hadn’t been since our last DRC mission to Japan, I holed up in my room to begin two weeks of blissfully quiet vacation, sorely missing our delegates all the while.
Those who have never been involved in a trip such as this might not appreciate what goes into them, from a staff perspective: To Sarah Carabias-Rush, Senior Vice President of International Engagement, and me, “sleep” is something you do for maybe four hours a night or throughout the day, in 30-minute bursts on the bus going from event to event. “Breakfast” is a quick coffee, maybe a croissant, while “dinner” is a two- or three-hour affair where your game face is on for the diplomats, executives, and partners you’re hosting.
Home Again in Dallas-Fort Worth
Our time back in the office has brought with it extensive mission follow-up, including outreach to all of our hosting groups to say thanks, the creation of a survey distributed to our business delegates so we can collect feedback, and continuous dialogue with the connections we made abroad and locally, to continue the conversations surrounding growth, expansion, and success in the Dallas-Fort Worth region.
Click here to read the first installment of the Dallas-Fort Worth Trade mission blog.
UPCOMING INTERNATIONAL EVENTS
DRC partners are hosting exciting opportunities related to international business.
EU General Data Protection Regulation Workshop
Tuesday, August 14 | 10:30 AM – 4:00 PM
Dallas office of Norton Rose Fulbright, 36th floor, 2200 Ross Ave., Suite 3600, Dallas 75201
Senior business executives and IT leaders are invited to an interactive workshop focused on understanding the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), and what it means to their businesses. U.S. businesses that hold data on any individual or business in Europe is subject to penalties by the European Union, if they fail to comply with the new EU regulation, which took effect on May 25. Among topics covered will be planning and facilitating data subject access rights requests, implementing and monitoring GDPR compliance, and maintaining third-party data insight. The event includes lunch and is free of charge. Register for the event here.
StopFakes.Gov IP Protection and Enforcement Seminar
Tuesday, August 21 | 8:30 AM – 5:00 PM
Baker McKenzie LLP, 1900 N. Pearl St., Suite 1500, Dallas 75201
The U.S. Commercial Service, in collaboration with partners, will present the STOPfakes.gov IP Protection and Enforcement Seminar, to discuss how individuals and companies can protect their intellectual property in the U.S. and in export markets. Attendees will also have the chance to meet individually with event speakers following the program, and to receive guidance from U.S. Customs and Border Protection, and U.S. Copyright Office staff on the online recordation/registration process. The event, which includes lunch, is free. Parking is $15. Click here to register; please RSVP by August 15.