VAGTC celebrates 20 years of supporting Michigan businesses

From left, Diana Lawson, dean of the Seidman College of Business; President Philomena V. Mantella; Sonja Johnson, executive director of the Van Andel Global Trade Center.
From left, Diana Lawson, dean of the Seidman College of Business; President Philomena V. Mantella; Sonja Johnson, executive director of the Van Andel Global Trade Center.
Image Credit: Rachael Mooney
From left: Katherine Dreyer, Mark Bleckley, President Philomena V. Mantella, Sonja Johnson.
From left: Katherine Dreyer, Mark Bleckley, President Philomena V. Mantella, Sonja Johnson.
Image Credit: Rachael Mooney

The Van Andel Global Trade Center, in the Seidman College of Business, is celebrating 20 years of helping Michigan businesses succeed in the global marketplace.

Coordinating with local companies, topic experts and professional practitioners, VAGTC provides educational opportunities to equip business professionals with the knowledge and skills they need to grow business on a global scale. 

The center has provided services to a variety of industries and companies in 60 percent of Michigan's 83 counties who are doing business in 195 different countries across the world.

"The Van Andel Global Trade Center plays an increasing role in helping Michigan businesses maneuver through an ever-changing global marketplace," said Sonja Johnson, VAGTC executive director. "Finding the right path to lead to success can be daunting. Businesses receive support from international market research to determine where products and services have the best chance of being sold across the globe, to help in determining how a good should be classified for export or import." 

Johnson said students working for VAGTC gain valuable experience working on projects and problems businesses are trying to solve to better compete. Many students find employment with U.S. multinational companies and non-profits that have exported their talents to locations around the world including Asia, Africa and Europe.

Highlights of accomplishments over 20 years:

• Trained 9,693 businesses across Michigan;

• Worked with 27,300 business professionals through consulting and on-site training;

• Engaged with 2,437 GVSU students, faculty and staff through its services;

• Provided student employees with hands-on learning contributing to 425 global business projects;

• VAGTC is the grantee administrator of the Kent-Ottawa-Muskegon Foreign-Trade Zone to promote the federal zone benefits and usage for local companies. Over the past four years, KOMFTZ clients have exported $67.7 million and supported 253 jobs.

In 2019, VAGTC received the President's "E" Award, the highest recognition any U.S. entity can receive for its significant contribution to the expansion of U.S. exports. In 2005, VAGTC received the World Trader of the Year award from the West Michigan World Trade Association.

For more information, contact VAGTC at (616) 331-6811 or visit gvsu.edu/vagtc