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  • Monday, April 05, 2021 4:32 PM | Mary Odom (Administrator)

    On March 26th Chris Gutierrez, President of Kansas City SmartPort, Inc. joined the International Trade Council to provide an update on Kansas City’s logistics industry.

    SmartPort is a non-profit economic development organization that works to attract freight-based companies, such as manufacturing, distributions, and warehouses to the 18-county, bi-state Kansas City region. Chris and his team at SmartPort contributed to record development in 2020, and are confident that 2021 could surpass 2020’s growth. 

    • Chris has worked in development, logistics, and international business for more than thirty years – in both the public and private sectors. His passion around international business actually started at a young age when he and his Dad realized that if they sent American beer overseas, they would receive Foreign beers back. He started quite the beer can collection!
    • Throughout Chris’s career, he has traveled to about 40 different countries, and has some great (sometimes scary) travel stories.
    • SmartPort was responsible for bringing in 12 new companies to KC in 2020 – about 4.4 million square feet of space and $900M in capital investment, 3,000+ jobs, and $123M in payroll. Companies that added new locations in KC in 2020 include: Chewy, Urban Outfitters, Dot's Homestyle Pretzels, Melaleuca, Pretzels Inc., Tuthill, Kenco Logistics, Project Frosty, UPS, Phoenix Package Logistics, BoxyCharm, and World Pantry.
    • Much of the current and anticipated growth stems from the Food & Beverage and E-commerce industries.
    • Chris and his team have been leaning on social media and technology to tell the story of KC during the pandemic and plan to incorporate this strategy, in addition to in person conferences and meetings, in the future. The team’s passion for Kansas City economic development is evident and allows them to really explain why Kansas City is a crucial area in which to invest.

    Written by Kelly Steck, ITC Board Member     

    Access the presentation slides here.                               

  • Thursday, April 01, 2021 11:57 AM | Mary Odom (Administrator)

    Kelly (Stokes) Steck has been a member of the ITC for seven months and joined because of her background, passions, and interest in international trade. Additionally, she joined because she was interested in learning more about other companies’ views on international trade, as well as learning more about the Kansas City companies with a global footprint—whether that be well-established ones or just-getting-started ones. She was fortunate enough to begin working for a company with significant foreign operations right out of college. Like many in the industry, Mrs. Steck has travelled extensively. She has traveled predominantly in both Latin America and Europe. Of all the places that she has been to, her favorite country is Spain, specifically the city of Barcelona. In her words, “the city, beaches, history, culture, and food are hard to beat!”

    Kelly is a Senior Account Manager at Lockton Companies. She coordinates non-US risk management for US-headquartered companies and has been in this role for around 4 years. One of the goals that she has includes continually learning and getting out of her comfort zone, a goal that she applies to both her personal and her professional life.

    Fun Facts and Advice:

    Name three people (dead or alive) that you would invite to dinner:

    • Michelle Obama
    • Hedy Lamarr
    • Sacagawea

    What is the last book that you read?

    “The Lost Girls of Paris” by Pam Jenoff. (She is a sucker for anything WWII related!

    Who inspires you?

    “This may be cliché, but my Mom is one of my greatest sources of inspiration. She is a fun-loving, hard-working, barrier-breaking professional woman and the best Mom a family could ask for!”

    What advice would you give someone who wants to get into International Business?

    “Do it! Get curious, be open-minded, do your research, travel, create meaningful relationships, and be ready to work some weird hours…”

    What else do you want to tell us about yourself; what is something unique about you that is generally not known?

    “I love interior design and real estate – you can frequently find me searching through warehouses in the west bottoms for the best vintage finds or at random open houses throughout the city!”

  • Wednesday, March 10, 2021 3:56 PM | Mary Odom (Administrator)

    On February 26th the International Trade Council partnered with Nabil Nahra, President of Premium Products International, for an overview of international sales and distribution. With 37 years of experience in global marketing, Nabil has a treasure trove of unique stories evidencing just how necessary a global perspective is to succeeding and growing your business.

    Here are some key takeaways:

    • Understanding what your clients' (and their clients') needs and wants is key. Hone in on who the real decision maker is and be sure they are included in the conversation.
    • Always offer more, ask additional questions, and seek to understand the local market needs.
    • Build your business plan anticipating setbacks/difficulties. For Nabil, samples seem to be a constant difficulty – traveling with them, having enough, clients requesting to keep them, etc.
    • Think outside the box, identify your obstacles, and problem solve creatively.
    • Be able to identify and discuss what makes your offerings different than your competitors – honor your commitments, and deliver on your promises.
    • While technology is helpful, never underestimate the value of visiting local markets.

    By Kelly Steck, ITC Board Member

  • Wednesday, March 03, 2021 4:32 PM | Mary Odom (Administrator)

    Multimodal Infrastructure Opportunity: Missouri River Terminal

    Project Overview

    Port KC plans to pursue the development of MRT as an advanced state-of-the-art intermodal development which will enhance the region’s rail, water and highway trade platform.

    —Port KC is in the advanced planning stages for the MRT after purchasing the 415-acre site in 2018 from AK Steel Corporation.

    —To enable development of the MRT, Port KC is looking to engage with partners through long-term master development agreement(s) to finance, construct and develop the capital investment, future operational management and maintenance of the Project.

    —In October 2020, USDOT awarded Port KC a Port Infrastructure Development Program (PIDP) Grant for $9.88 million to accelerate the planning and early works construction activities required to advance the MRT’s progress to full site construction quickly after environmental approvals are received.

    Opportunity Overview

    The Port Authority of Kansas City, Missouri (“Port KC”) is seeking a partner(s) for the development of a large-scale intermodal facility along the Missouri River in Kansas City, Missouri. The Missouri River Terminal (the “MRT” or “Project”) will offer new access points and significant market reach which will expand Kansas City’s capacity for efficient management of intermodal containers into and out of the local and regional freight markets in Missouri, Kansas and beyond.

    The MRT will expand beyond Port KC's current bulk and breakbulk facilities to establish and construct:

    • New river terminals leveraging existing dock infrastructure to accept vessels with container vessels, container on barge, and storage services;
    • Creation of new short line railroad with over five miles of new track to serve containerized cargo that can be switched to five Class 1 railroads or truckload transfer;
    • Direct access to Interstate 435 and the Kansas City interstate highway system;
    • Warehousing and office buildings; and
    • Industrial activities and production zoning.

    Investment Highlights

    Well positioned for multiple transportation modes

    Kansas City’s vast transportation network includes:

    • Four interstate highways;
    • Missouri River Marine Highway;
    • Rail connections through five Class I railroads; and
    • Unique central national freight lanes serving Kansas City’s North-South and East-West trade access points.


    ―Since reopening barge traffic in 2015, Port KC has seen nearly 51% annual growth in total tonnage.

    ―Intermodal container volumes are expected to grow at approximately 3.9% annually over the next 20 years, doubling the need for TEU container capacity in the Kansas City region.

    ―Kansas City is one of the fastest growing regions in the U.S. freight market, resulting in significant demand to increase freight capacity for all modes of transportation including container, intermodal and transload activity.

    Project development and approvals

    Port KC has been awarded a PIDP grant of approximately $10 million.

    Port KC has purchased the 415-acre MRT site and is the process of conducting environmental mitigation on the site.

    Port KC is in the process of applying to the Surface Transportation Board (STB) to become its own Class III railroad and will be point agency for environmental approvals of the site.

    Superior location

    ―Property is approximately 415 acres that is bound by road rail and water access

    ―With close proximity to the Missouri River on the North, Interstate 435 to the West and rail access from the Kansas City Terminal Railroad to the South, the MRT has potential to be a major multimodal freight transfer facility.

    Process and Timeline

    PortKC is contemplating a variety of public private partnership(P3) models to finance, develop, manage, and operate the Project. Once a preferred approach(es) are identified, the Port is anticipating to commence the process to identify potential partners through procurement in calendar year 2021.

    Some key anticipated dates include (subject to change):


    Ted Hamer, Managing Director

    Justin Clarke, Director

    Thanks to Joe Lohman and Richard Grenville for sharing this exciting news!

  • Tuesday, February 02, 2021 3:58 PM | Mary Odom (Administrator)

    Mr. Logan has been a member of the ITC for 10 years now. In seeing the world as an integrated, intertwined tapestry of countries and cultures, Mr. Logan joined to be able to learn more about the various different lanes of information that make up the way the world works and the way that countries interact with each other. While his background is with intercultural work in Christian ministry and NGO community development, that cannot be wholly separated from companies and organizations that work internationally here in Kansas City. Keeping in touch with those organizations and companies is particularly important for keeping abreast of changing trends and issues facing the global community.

    Mr. Logan has traveled extensively, including to Canada and Mexico, which he has done several times throughout his life. Additionally, he has been to Central America (in the 90’s), Australia, New Zealand, and French Polynesia (in the 2000’s), as well as extensively throughout East Asia, including China, Taiwan, Japan, and South Korea (where he left part of his heart). His trip to Tahiti was particularly memorable, as it is in his words, “absolutely stunning and rich in French and Polynesian culture.” His last trip was to Valencia, Spain, a city that he found enchanting, where he presented a paper at an international conference. During this trip he was also able to run the Stockholm Marathon. Currently, Mr. Logan is the CEO/Owner of Synago Consulting LLC, a position that he has been in for the last 10 years. Synago helps organizations and individuals navigate the challenges of working in new cultural settings.

    Fun Facts & Advice

    Name three people (dead or alive) that you would invite to dinner.
    • Andrew Zimmern
    • Mark Twain
    • Amelia Earhart

    What was the last book that you read?

    Community Before Self: Seventy Years of Making Waves by Malin Burnham.

    Who inspires you?

    Anyone who ventures outside of their comfort zone to engage in new conversations, new challenges, and new adventures!

    What advice would you give someone who wants to get into International Business/International Trade?
    Be curious. Be open. Listen, listen, listen. Be respectful of others whom are different than you. Be flexible and adaptable.

  • Wednesday, January 06, 2021 10:01 AM | Mary Odom (Administrator)

    Ms. Glasow has been a member of the ITC for 1 year and 4 months and joined as a result of interest in an ITC event, Women in International Business, an event which is inspired by International Women’s Day. Like many in the industry, Ms. Glasow has traveled extensively, including across Asia, Europe, Latin America, and Africa. Some highlights of these travels include 8 years of studying and working in Mexico, as well as extended periods in Hong Kong over 10 years. Though choosing a favorite country is hard, after some thought Ms. Glasow settled on China. In her words, “The variety of cityscapes, from Shanghai to Chongqing to Beijing is incredible. The breathtaking scenery of the Himalayas (on the Tibet side) and multiple national parks are memories I hope to relive with my children. Even the long road trips between factory visits were enjoyable, mainly due to my delightful local colleagues and the variety of Chinese cuisine that I would anticipate at our destination.”

    Currently, Ms. Glasow is the Sales and Business Development Director for Hallmark Global Solutions. In her role, she helps to build the Hallmark brand globally through a variety of business models, such as licensing, distribution, direct-to-retail, and digital e-commerce initiatives. This is a role that she has been serving in since 2018. At present Hallmark has a presence in more than 80 countries and 30 languages. Her bilingual Spanish and English capabilities have been essential to her international career. Graduating with a degree in engineering, she began traveling to the Maquiladora region in Northern Mexico to work with local companies at Tyco Electronics. A career shift took her to DEMDACO where she served as an International Business Manager working on integrating international requirements into “global” operational capabilities. This then led to an opportunity to move to Hong Kong to learn about sourcing and procurement, which in time turned into an opportunity to work with Hallmark Cards, Inc. in Kansas City. Some of the goals that she has for her career are to help Hallmark (and other companies) develop a global vision through a global strategy and operational frameworks that can be leveraged and scaled for truly global business operations and growth in key markets. Her experience has taught her that a siloed approach by country leads to delays in scalability and resource duplication, which is costly and hard to unwind. Through the framework she helps develop, companies can avoid these issues and more quickly identify growth opportunities and operational next steps.

    Fun Facts & Advice:

    Name three people (dead or alive) that you would invite to dinner:

    • Mark Cuban – for his entrepreneurial sensibility and decision-making process.
    • Amelia Earhart- for her courageous character and world travel narratives.
    • Sir David Attenborough- for his incredible commitment to nature conservation.

    What was the last book you read?
    Nobel House by James Clavell. Set in 1963, the novel tells the tale of dueling international trading houses.

    Who inspires you?
    Christa McAuliffe. She was the first American Civilian selected to go into space. Her enthusiasm and passion to be a part of NASA’s Challenger space shuttle program (which sadly ended in tragedy as I watched the broadcast with my 3rd-grade classroom) are inspiring to me.

    What advice would you give to someone who wants to get into International Business/International Trade?
    My advice would be to study how global companies, across consumer goods and B2B industries, have strengthened their international brand presence and sharpened their operational capabilities to identify areas of efficiency and desired international trade skillsets. Foresight into technology developments and general business trends would be important since these trends will likely impact international trade, as well. An entirely different point of advice would be to follow global trade trends and country positioning on the spectrum of free trade versus a more protectionist outlook.

    What else do you want to tell us about yourself/what is something unique about you that is generally not known?
    I can hold my own in a game of table tennis and have a Kansas City Corporate Challenge medal tucked away in a drawer somewhere!

  • Monday, November 30, 2020 2:50 PM | Mary Odom (Administrator)

    ITC welcomes Baker University to our professional community as an Academic Gold member!

    Baker University is a private liberal arts institution in northeastern Kansas that educates traditional and nontraditional students through small classes, innovative instructors, and rigorous course work. Fortune 500 CEOs, New York Times best-selling authors, a Pulitzer Prize winner, and a Super Bowl champion all proudly claim Baker, the first university in Kansas, as their alma mater. According to Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce, Baker offers the highest return on investment of colleges in Kansas and ranks in the top 8 percent nationwide. Additionally, the U.S. Department of Education College Scorecard has found that Baker alumni earn the highest average salaries among graduates of universities in Kansas. These rankings affirm the value of a well-rounded liberal arts education from Baker University that prepares its graduates to enter the workforce with the experiences and skills to be successful citizens and leaders. 

    Next year Baker will offer a new entrepreneurship program, led by Narbeli Galindo, a global entrepreneurship expert who has served as the William Everett and Mary Ellen Mealman Endowed Chair of Business Leadership and Innovation at Baker since Aug. 1, 2020. Galindo’s international connections will have a direct impact on Baker students pursuing real-world opportunities, and she will engage with the Greater Kansas City business community to promote the interests of students. In addition to teaching international trade and introduction to international business courses, she will lead the development of courses related to entrepreneurship, emphasizing the importance of business leadership and innovation. Baker is excited to be a member the International Trade Council (ITC) and to engage with its community members. The university has already taken advantage of the ITC Global TradeWins trade simulation program by implementing it in international business courses, exposing students to how trade works in the real world.

  • Thursday, November 12, 2020 9:09 AM | Mary Odom (Administrator)

    Written ITC records from 1995 are unfortunately somewhat scarce. But to the best of our belief, Global TradeWins, our dynamic international business transaction simulation, celebrates its 25th year in existence in 2020. Indications are that an early version of the program was run during 1995 in our nation’s capital, in cooperation with the former US Department of Commerce agency the Bureau of Export Administration (BXA). Ceded to the ITC in 1996, Global TradeWins was substantially modified and run with an enthusiastic group of students at Doane University (formerly College) in Nebraska during the fall of 1997.

    Global TradeWins, which exposes participants to many aspects of an international business transaction in an enjoyable environment, has since been presented at a number of colleges and universities in Kansas and Missouri and was once featured by an area educator while teaching on assignment in the Netherlands. It featured as an integral portion of several early World Trade Week presentations, and has been provided in a corporate setting for ITC board members and members at large.

    Finally, another significant milestone was attained in September this year when Global TradeWins received its registration from the US Patent and Trademark Office, thus formalizing its status as a viable educational tool for international business. We are confident that additional opportunities for its use will open up throughout the Kansas City and surrounding areas. To bring Global TradeWins to your academic institution or corporate education program, contact ITC staff at

  • Monday, September 28, 2020 8:26 AM | Mary Odom (Administrator)

    Mrs. Samantha January has been a member of ITC since March of this year and decided to join for the networking opportunities and to get involved in her community while interacting with professionals in her field. Like some in the industry, Mrs. January has not traveled internationally often, and instead has done so domestically. Of all the places that she could go to internationally, Japan is at the top of the list. And thanks to being in quarantine, she has had plenty of time to plan her next trip.

    Currently, Mrs. January works as the Logistics and Compliance Coordinator for Essence of Australia. It is a position that she has been in since November of last year. She transitioned into the field of International Trade when she began a position as International Supply Chain Analyst for Dean and Deluca. In her words, “I fell in love with the challenges it presented and working with people all over the world. No day is like any other, and I was able to put some of my Anthropology degree to use!” Some of the goals that she currently has for her career include wanting to continue to work for companies that have remarkable workplace culture and to be continue to cultivate knowledge in her role and use that expertise to drive the business forward.

    Fun Facts & Advice:

    Name three people (dead or alive) that you would invite to dinner:
    Jane Goodall, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, and Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.

    What was the last book you read?
    The Giver of Stars by Jojo Moyes and curr
    ently reading An African American and Latinx History of the United States by Paul Ortiz. She has also been reading Moby Dick on and off for 3 years and her goal for 2020 is to finish the book.

    Who inspires you?
    My biggest inspiration comes from my daughter. Becoming a woman that she looks up to and is encouraged by is my utmost goal. I also find inspiration in ambitious and powerful women. I am fascinated by the great thinkers and doers, past and present. I love reading their stories about how they overcame great odds to change the world.

    What advice would you give someone who wants to get into International Trade/International Business?
    Cultivating your love of learning is instrumental to longevity. Understand and respect cultural differences and remain flexible in workflow expectations.

    What is something unique about you that is generally not known?
    I am a novice interior decorator! My husband and I are renovating an outdated home from top to bottom. Juggling home renovations, during a global pandemic at home full time with a toddler, has been interesting to say the least!

  • Tuesday, September 01, 2020 2:56 PM | Mary Odom (Administrator)

    Ona Coker has been a member of the ITC for 2 years and decided to join in order to gain a better network of professionals within the international trade industry in Kansas City, as well as a better understanding of the events and activities in International Trade happening in Kansas City. Like many in this industry, Mr. Coker has traveled quite a bit, including noteworthy countries such as England, France, China, Nigeria, Mexico, and Canada. Of all these places, his favorite has by far been Shanghai, China. In his words, “The reality of the city far exceeded my expectations. My experience traveling there further bolstered my philosophy that there is so much learning that can be done when you travel, as long as you keep an open mind.”

    Currently, Mr. Coker leads the Export Services/Fulfillment team at Dairy Farmers of America in executing global trade operations. His current position is Assistant Director of Export Fulfillment, and he has been with the organization for 5 years in this capacity. He has always had a passion for international business and trade and is motivated by the opportunities to facilitate trade and global business across cultures and countries. After graduating with a degree in International Trade and a minor in French, Mr. Coker worked with Expeditors International of Washington as a broker. During the 7 years that he spent at Expeditors International, Mr. Coker worked concurrently in a consulting capacity with a U.S. based company to help them penetrate the West African market with their product. He helped them to source their product from China at a competitive rate and then worked to import the product into Nigeria where it was distributed locally. Shortly after, he got the opportunity to work as a multinational company under the Koch umbrella, called INVISTA. There, he worked as a Global Customer Service leader and Trade Compliance SME with dotted line responsibilities to teams in Latin America, Asia, and Europe. Through the skills acquired at this organization, he was led to an opportunity with Dairy Farmers of America and his current post. Some of the goals that he has for his career include becoming an influencer and thought leader, as well as a catalyst to bring about change in the global trade industry, specifically within the realm of global digitalization.

    Fun Facts

    Three people (dead or alive) that you would invite to dinner: 
    Steve Jobs, Nelson Mandela, and Sam Walton

    The last book you read: 
    Start with Why by Simon Sinek, and currently reading Good to Great by Jim Collins.

    Who inspires you? 
    My mother has been my biggest inspiration. From an early age, I have seen her take the opportunity to further educate and improve on herself time and time again. This philosophy has been embedded in me from such a young age and became one of my core principles. One must always look for the opportunity to improve one’s self in every facet of one’s life.

    What advice would you give someone who wants to get into international business/ international trade? 
    I would say be open. Never be rigid in your thinking and how you deal with people, especially in the global arena. Understand that most people in the world are different from you. Their cultures are different, and you have to be able to be ‘fluid’ enough to cope when you deal in those circumstances.

    Something unique about you that is generally not known? 
    I love farming. I have engaged in several farm projects to help improve agriculture in sub-Saharan Africa. Mechanized Farming/Sustainable Agriculture done right will have a big impact on Africa.

© 2021 International Trade Council of Greater Kansas City

ITCGKC is a 501(c)3 Organization

The International Trade Council of Greater Kansas City is a network of international business professionals, educators, and students that actively work with each other and the community to build a stronger support system for international trade in the Kansas City region.

PO Box 12340
Kansas City, MO 64116


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