Global Reach, Local Focus: How a World Trade Center landed in Utah

Utah has a World Trade Center Building located in the heart of downtown Salt Lake City. Many people are surprised to learn about this building and the organization it houses, World Trade Center Utah (WTC Utah).

WTC Utah has been in operation for more than a decade. How did a World Trade Center come to be in Utah and what is its connection to the World Trade Center Building in New York? Let’s delve in.

A history

In 2006 former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman, Jr. felt it was important that Utah join the World Trade Center Association (WTCA) to promote exports and give Utah a platform on a global stage. Working with then executive director of the Governor’s Office of Economic Development (GOED) Jason Perry, as well as many other influential Utah business leaders, Governor Huntsman started the process to create Utah’s World Trade Center. Lew Cramer was appointed as the first president and CEO of the organization.

There are more than 320 licensed World Trade Centers around the world, with both certified and non-certified members. Under Lew’s direction, Utah worked through all of the certifications and qualifications needed to become a certified member, which placed WTC Utah in the upper tier of WTC organizations.

The effort put forth by Governor Huntsman, Jason Perry, Lew Cramer and many others spoke to the vision they had for Utah to have a greater impact in the world marketplace.

World Trade Center Building

Over the next couple of years WTC Utah worked with the International Trade and Diplomacy Office in GOED to coordinate trade missions, provide training opportunities and educate Utah businesses about the international opportunities available to them. As allies, GOED and WTC Utah cohosted many ambassadors and consuls general.

Because of the growing partnership between WTC Utah and GOED, when it came time for GOED to move to a larger office space, Spencer Eccles, executive director at the time, invited WTC Utah to join them. In working with the real estate arm of the LDS Church, it was decided the organizations would move into what was then Eagle Gate Tower and would be renamed the World Trade Center Building.

The building’s grand opening took place on May 23, 2012. The building gave Utah’s international efforts a branded home on a broader stage. It brought to fruition the vision Gov. Huntsman had and Gov. Gary Herbert continues to have of Utah becoming recognized as a premier global business destination.

“In my time as Governor, I traveled the world on trade missions to help connect Utah companies to global opportunities. I noticed that most major cities had World Trade Centers and I wanted Utah to have the benefit of being part of an expansive, international network,” said Gov. Jon Huntsman at WTC Utah’s 10-year anniversary in 2016. “The successes that have been achieved by World Trade Center Utah make me proud to have the organization as part of my legacy.”

New York connection

World Trade Center Utah is part of the World Trade Centers Association (WTCA), which is headquartered in New York City. That stimulates trade and investment opportunities for commercial property developers, economic development agencies and international businesses looking to connect globally and prosper locally.

World Trade Center branded properties and trade services organizations are located in more than 90 countries and supported by 15,000 professionals.

WTC Utah services

WTC Utah is an organization dedicated to promoting international business and helping Utah companies grow globally. Designated as the international business arm for the state, WTC Utah offers trade services to help companies export and also leads out on foreign direct investment efforts. Some of its services include trade missions, market research, educational events and one-on-one consultations.

WTC Utah offers market research to companies looking to go global free of charge. This is made possible thanks to generous support from WTC Utah members and the state legislature. Businesses interested in accessing these services should connect with WTC Utah’s trade services team.

There are several grants available to help companies expand into global markets. The STEP Grant, a program funded in part through a grant with the U.S. Small Business Administration, provides up to $15,000 in funding to eligible companies to help them grow internationally through attending a trade mission, trade show, obtaining translation services, designing international marketing campaigns, etc.

Applications for the STEP Grant are open the month of October. The Utah Export Acceleration Grant also provides funding to help companies export. Information for both of these grants is available at

Globally focused

More than 10 years ago World Trade Center Utah started its work to help companies think, act and succeed globally. Hundreds of businesses have received assistance from WTC Utah and expanded into new international markets. Exports doubled between 2005 and 2015, and WTC Utah issued a challenge to the business community to double exports again over the next decade.

In an ever-globalized world, looking beyond state and national borders is key to staying competitive. Especially considering 95 percent of the world’s consumers live outside of the United States, 92 percent of economic growth comes from outside of the U.S. and 80 percent of the world’s purchasing power is located outside of the U.S.

International business is an important component of a healthy economy. Utah is a state that sees the importance of diversifying customers and products to ensure stability and economic prosperity for years to come. World Trade Center Utah is a key driver of helping companies achieve international success.

Derek Miller is president and CEO of World Trade Center Utah, an organization dedicated to helping Utah companies think, act and succeed globally.