city-936398_1920We use a term in the international trade industry to refer to the collective of importers and exporters;  ‘The trade’ is the community that must work closely with U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP). While CBP’s goal is always keeping shipments and the country safe, they also enforce international compliance regulations.

The trade is quite a large group. These facts from the U.S Chamber of Commerce help put into perspective how vast ‘the trade’ community is. Forty-one million jobs in American depend upon it, yet few people normally think about the impact of international business on the local economy. If there is good that has come of trade wars…it’s that we ‘trade nerds’ of the world have become popular.

Then, in a more specific area of ‘the trade’, we have these even lesser considered areas called Foreign-Trade Zones (FTZ). Upon entering the FTZ world in a project role, I took an intense crash course in international business. A business which many economists have credited for the restoration from the Great Depression. It has also been eye-opening to see how many people are completely unaware that such a thing even exists.

But the FTZ program has been quietly, yet effectively at work in the background to fuel global trade growth over the years. It isn’t a coincidence. The Chamber article notes “U.S. real manufacturing output has risen by nearly 80% over the past 25 years. This represents the continuation of a long trend: U.S. manufacturing value-added has grown eightfold since 1947 in real terms.”

Another term we use frequently in our business is economic development.

The FTZ program began in 1934 with the passing of The Foreign-Trade Zones act. That Act had the singular goal of being an economic development tool. It was designed to level the playing field between U.S. companies and global suppliers, creating jobs for American workers. The program is now almost 85 years old and going strong.


In 1979, there were less than a dozen active FTZ’s and today there are more than two hundred fifty of these zones across the country and well over four hundred thousand people are employees within those zones. The FTZ Act worked.


The Act has been revised over the years, most recently in 2012. The regulations were revised to make way for faster, simpler and more cost-effective FTZ approvals to be gained. Those new regs created what’s called an Alternative Site Framework (‘ASF’). Nashville just got approved to manage their zone under that new framework. Folks, this means that Nashville is now more open for FTZ business.

With permission from FTZ 31, we gladly share with you this video. It gives a fantastic five-minute flyover of how the FTZ program benefits business. It’s the most succinctly put explanation of the program we’ve seen. Then give us a call to find out how easily we can get you into FTZ 078 – Music City, USA!