The International Trade Council of Greater Kansas City, created in 1944 to promote regional products and trade prospects, celebrated its 70th anniversary on Tuesday.
The nonprofit organization was founded during World War II by a group of area business leaders led by J.C. Nichols, the visionary real estate developer who created the Country Club Plaza.
The group’s mission has remained constant over the years — to foster development, expansion and education of international trade. The council also sponsors an annual World Trade event in May to promote regional business opportunities abroad.
The council has 200 members and is considered the oldest international trade association in the region. Members primarily represent manufacturing and service companies in the Kansas City area.
Sharon Valasek began her term as president at Tuesday night’s celebratory annual meeting. She is the Midwest honorary counsul of the Czech Republic.
“The level of global trade in the Kansas City area has increased steadily over the past 70 years, especially the export of agricultural commodities, much of which travels through our waterways to distant ports,” Valasek said.
The annual meeting was scheduled to include a presentation from Robert Landry, chief commercial officer of the Port of New Orleans. The nation’s sixth-largest port, which has invested more than $100 million in capital improvement projects since 2012, has had a longstanding freight-shipping relationship with the Kansas City Port Authority.