Anne Arundel Community College and a college in England have united in a partnership designed to increase commerce across the Atlantic.
The "Enterprise Center for International Education and Business," unveiled yesterday at an Annapolis luncheon, will provide a wealth of critical information for small and midsized businesses looking to tapinto the international market.
With its debut in August, the program will allow Anne Arundel businesses instant access to business experts and economic development officials through satellites and computer networks between AACC and Northbrook College in Sussex, England.
Anne Arundel trade group representatives, county officials and businesses, in turn, will provide information to English companies looking to expand to American markets.
The $250,179 for the two-year effort came from $155,179 seven public and private contributors in the partnership and a $95,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Education.
Both Anne Arundel and Sussex also plan to send up to 12 representatives to visit their overseas partner next year for a first-hand glimpse of potential markets.
Each campus also will add a clearinghouse to answer questions on subjects such as overseas markets, tariffs and international law, as well as new courses focusing on international business.
The AACC centerwill provide education and training for businesses, students and citizens.
"These two colleges will form anchor points to build a bridge across the Atlantic for businesses," said James S. Atwell, AACC's vice president for academic affairs, who is serving as the project's director.
John C. T. Alexander, director of the Center for International Education, called the effort a model of cooperation aimed at building essential ties between American and largely untapped Europeanmarkets.
"We are a very parochial nation," he said. "We've got toget more global in our thinking."
Michael F. A. Thrower, principal at Northbrook College, calledthe two schools a "perfect bridgehead to these two cultures" and said he hopes the partnership will help convince more Anne Arundel businesses to look to marketing in England.
Organizers said they hoped Maryland businesses would expand their marketing efforts beyond England to France and other European countries.
Besides the two schools other partners in the effort are the county's Office of Economic Development; the Anne Arundel Trade Council; the Federation of Sussex Industries, the state of Maryland's International Division; and the World Trade Center Institute, a Baltimore-based organization created by public and private leaders to foster international business in the region.
AACC and Northbrook began working together more than four years ago, when the two colleges began anexchange program for faculty members and students.