This interview of Yvonne Bendinger-Rothschild, the Executive Director of EACCNY, was featured in Transatlantic Business & Investment Council’s (TBIC) market insight on FDI-related developments in Europe for July 2020.
Yvonne joined the European American Chamber of Commerce New York Chapter (EACC) as its Executive Director in October 2010. The EACC’s goal is to stimulate transatlantic trade & business development, and to facilitate exchange and develop relationships between European and American businesses and professional organizations. As part of her role, she focuses on providing EACC’s network access to new and innovative transatlantic business opportunities as well as relevant resources and support on topics affecting business activities between Europe and the United States. Yvonne is also a member of the United Nations Business Sector Steering Committee on Financing for Development, a Fellow of the Disruptor Foundation, and member of the Economic Club of New York. Since 2019, she is a member of the TBIC Advisory Council.
1. Yvonne, you have actively participated in our Panel on Transatlantic Economic Relations and FDI Trends at our 2019 Annual Conference in Richmond. For those members who did not have the pleasure to meet you in person, can you elaborate a little bit on your work for the European American Chamber of Commerce New York?
Yes, the program TBIC put together was excellent, and the people I met were all very relevant to what we do, we have been in touch with many of them.
The slogan of the EACC is “we are the platform where Americans and Europeans connect to do business.” Concretely, we bring together European and American business executives and help them better understand the business environment on the other side of the Atlantic. An international expansion is complex and to succeed one needs reliable partners, the EACC network helps companies build these relationships.
In my role I am in charge of the EACC’s New York chapter, the largest within the network, and I spearhead our growth initiative which includes forming partnerships and developing new chapters.
2. We all currently experience a unique situation for the global economy. How does the European American Chamber of Commerce New York deal with current travel restrictions and the lack of meetings and events for its members?
It’s been a challenge to say the least, moving all operations to home office is much more than handing someone a laptop and sending them home. This requires a rethinking of business processes and procedures: how do we communicate with our members, collect remittances, how do we pay our own bills. It’s the small things that make it complex.
How do we communicate efficiently among the staff and other stakeholders and how do we do that securely and efficiently. We were well prepared internally and across the chapter network communication where we had regular calls already established.
We made a point of calling each of our members individually and asked them how they are doing and how we could help. We brainstormed with them how we can support their activities and assist with challenges they were facing.
We asked ourselves what topics are relevant for our members in this crisis and what is already covered by other organizations or our members themselves and where does EACC as a network have answers that you can’t find anywhere else.
We were lucky as we had many of these protocols in place and even a number of webinars on hand that we were able to deploy at a moment’s notice. Many of them turned out to be more topical than ever, such as discussions about trade & tariffs, cyber security, privacy, and immigration. The EACC network as a group has incredible experts among our members and we were able to quickly deploy their expertise to satisfy the insatiable need for information that this pandemic triggered.
We are developing new ways to connect our members with the other attendees of our programs, we are developing new outlets for our members to showcase their expertise and connect them one-on-one to get through this. It is labor intensive but it’s worth it and our renewal rate is proof that we are doing something right.
I also witnessed a lot of transatlantic collaboration, as we are connecting companies from Europe looking for U.S. partners or who have products fit for the U.S. market and U.S. companies who have unique solutions that are sought after in Europe. We see a lot of collaboration and sharing of best practices across the Atlantic.
3. Some European FDI source countries and industries seem to be better equipped for the new situation than others. Do you see any new trends and opportunities for U.S. economic development organizations as a result of the COVID-19 crisis?
In my view FDI decisions are not based on cheap labor and the best tax breaks a State can offer. The determining factor for a partnership or where a company expands is based on the availability of a qualified workforce and a good standard of living for executives and their families.
COVID-19 revealed that there is a real need for collaboration, and people are actively pursuing it. We have connected so many executives with their counterparts across different industries and everyone is willing to pay it forward.
I am seeing a number of European companies looking to manufacture in the U.S. and in need of partners on the ground to help them produce parts or the whole product in the U.S. and setting up a sales office. This will be a start to more collaboration down the road.
The next 6 month are not going to be easy, but they will be a good time to forge new and intensify existing relationships. The U.S. and Europe are better together, we can only succeed with the right partners. That’s what the EACC network is all about: good relationships take a while to build but they are a good investment.
Compliments of the TBIC.