West Michigan celebrates World Trade Month


Global engineering firm Dematic, which has its North American headquarters in Grand Rapids, is a 2019 World Trader of the Year recipient. Courtesy Dematic

World Trade Month is almost here.

There are several local events scheduled throughout May to celebrate the month and the annual West Michigan World Trade Week.

World Trade Week, which occurs during the third week of May, was established in 1935 by then-U.S. President Franklin Delano Roosevelt and is recognized annually by presidential proclamation, meant to acknowledge the importance of international trade.

Several organizations are hosting events May 1, 6, 15 and 21.

Registration for all events can be found at gvsu.edu/wtw.

World Trader of The Year Awards

For the first year since 1977, the West Michigan World Trade Association is giving three trade awards, rather than a single World Trader of the Year Award.

Past recipients include SoundOff Signal, Gordon Food Service, Founders Brewing Company, Fred Keller of Cascade Engineering, Birgit Klohs of The Right Place and Van Andel Global Trade Center.

The 2019 World Trader of the Year award recipients are:

  • Business: Dematic
  • Organization: Women At Risk International
  • Individual: Kerri Orders

Dematic is a global engineering company that designs, develops, supports and builds logistics solutions that optimize supply chains, improves performance and increases productivity.

With its North American headquarters in Grand Rapids and global headquarters in Atlanta, the company has more than 6,000 employees at 60 engineering centers in 25 countries and at manufacturing facilities in North America, Europe, China and Australia.

Among several projects, Women At Risk International runs the Tea Trade Café, at 2790 44th St. SW in Wyoming, which teaches barista and business skills to women who have experienced injustices. Coffee and tea sales help support at-risk and rescued women and men in West Michigan and around the globe.

Some of WARI’s other projects include selling handcrafted gifts made and imported by at-risk people from around the world; vocational training and additional education abroad; and a U.S. center that offers employment, skills training and mentorship to local at-risk women.

WARI has worked on projects and programs in more than 50 countries in five continents.

Kerri Orders is an adjunct professor for Aquinas College and owner of consultancy Zest International, which assists companies on marketing and export development strategies. She spent 20 years working throughout Europe in several marketing roles for Warner Bros., Atari and Hanna-Barbera Productions.

She’s also worked as an adjunct marketing professor in Paris.

The ceremony will recognize the 2019 Student Study Abroad Scholarship recipient, Joshua Hunter, as well as hear from last year’s winner, Kyle Ferris, about his experience.

The event will end with a cocktail and hors d'oeuvres reception.

Organizer: West Michigan World Trade Association

Date: May 1

Time: 5:15-7 p.m.

Venue: Miller Johnson's Patio: 45 Ottawa Ave. SW, Grand Rapids

Cost: $35 for WMWTA members, $45 for nonmembers and free for students

The Economic Club of Grand Rapids luncheon

Art critic and author Jed Perl will speak about the 50th anniversary of La Grande Vitesse on Calder Plaza. Perl teaches at the New School for Social Research in New York City and is working on the first full-length biography of the sculpture’s creator, Alexander Calder.

Organizer: The Economic Club of Grand Rapids

Date: May 6

Time: Noon-1:30 p.m.

Venue: JW Marriott Grand Rapids, 235 Louis Campau St. NW, Grand Rapids

Cost: $35 for members and $45 for guests of a member

Business conference and VIP reception

The 34th annual West Michigan World Trade Week business conference and VIP reception has a theme of Think Global.

The keynote speaker is Kim Dabbs, global director of corporate social innovation for Steelcase. Dabbs collaborated on the launch of Steelcase’s new Learning + Innovation Center in Munich.

Dabbs previously held roles as executive director of the West Michigan Center for Arts and Technology and also led Michigan Youth Arts. She served as a gubernatorial appointee to the Michigan Council for Arts and Cultural Affairs and was a member of the Diversity and Inclusion Council for Varnum Law.

She presents internationally on social innovation and design thinking at venues such as the Guggenheim, the Aspen Institute and TEDx.

Event attendees can choose from a variety of roundtable topics and breakout sessions throughout the afternoon.

Registration includes lunch, reference materials and admittance to the VIP reception.

Organizer: World Trade Week 2019 Planning Committee

Date: May 15

Time: 11:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m. for the luncheon and conference; 4:30-6:30 p.m. for the VIP reception, by invitation only

Venue: GVSU L. William Seidman Center, 50 Front Ave. SW, Grand Rapids

Cost: $95 until it increases May 3


WorldQuest is a global trivia competition.

Players compete in teams of six. There are five rounds of multiple choice and true-false questions, all globally focused.

Game winners get bragging rights and team prizes.

The event includes a buffet dinner, cash bar, snacks during the game and door prizes.

The game sells out every year.

Organizer: World Affairs Council of Western Michigan

Date: May 21

Time: 5:30-8:30 p.m.

Venue: GVSU's L.V. Eberhard Center, 301 W. Fulton St., Grand Rapids

Cost: $45 for individuals and $75 for couples.

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