New initiative launched in LA focuses on making cities competitive globally

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A Pelican Products case.

American cities must compete globally in order to thrive, and a new effort to help them do that kicked off Monday with a conference at USC.

The conference launched a new Global Cities Initiative by the Brookings Institution and JP Morgan Chase.

Director Bruce Katz said 95 percent of the world’s consumers are abroad, and cities need to help their local businesses reach them.

"The U.S. is the most diverse country in the world," says Katz. "L.A. is one of the most diverse metropolitan areas in the United States, but we’re very insular. We don’t get out much."

Katz pointed to the success of Pelican Products in Torrance. They manufacture protective cases for everything from jet engines to tablet computers. Pelican Vice President Scott Ermeti said last year that the U.S. government cut its purchases from his company by $25 million.

"But because of our international sales, we gained about $22 million of that back," says Ermeti. "And then with some other new markets, we were able to have a positive growth year."

Exports now account for more than a third of Pelican’s business.

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