by Debbie Monterrey dcmonterrey@cbs.com

One of my biggest joys in life is learning things about my adopted hometown that I didn’t know. The cooler the tidbit, the louder my gleeful shriek of, “Really? I didn’t know that!”

It’s one reason I enjoy being part of the World Trade Center/St. Louis‘ annual Growing Global event. (I’m terrible at keeping track, but WTC-STL assures me I’ve emceed for 12 years).

This year, I learned that Goop is made in St. Louis City and a St. Charles business helps KMOX keep its clocks synchronized. These two businesses — Critzas Industries, a family-owned business since 1949, and Masterclock, also family-owned –won $15,000 and $25,000 respectively, in the St. Louis Export Challenge.

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Cartan Sumner, President of WTC-STL board; Tim Nowak, WTC-STL Executive Director; Critzas Industries’ Logan Howell; Craig Horstmann, JPMorgan Chase (Photo courtesy of WTC-STL)

Third place winner, Halcyon Shades of Maryland Heights, makes commercial and residential window shades and blinds that both save energy and block 99.9% of UV rays (using using space-age technology developed for NASA). They’re using their $10,000 prize to show their products in Germany and interview German distributors.

Much of the coverage of business lately tends to focus on tech start-ups and incubators and new entrepreneurial efforts, so the news about Goop really caught my attention. A third generation, family-owned manufacturer in the City?

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Goop Hand Cleaner, made in St. Louis City since 1949 (photo courtesy of Goophandcleaner.com)

Turns out, I’ve driven right past Critzas Industries, the makers of Goop, many times. They’re in Botanical Heights (between Shaw and Midtown/Central West End), just a stone’s throw from my neighborhood. The company makes other products, including Groomer’s Goop, which apparently  is the professional choice of groomers, breeders and those who show their pets. They’re expanding their market in South America.

Masterclock, whose slogan is “Time is global. So are we,” includes among its success stories: keeping KMOX/CBS radio on time, installing their timing systems in stadiums hosting the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil, and time synchronization and countdown systems for Kennedy Space Center.

St. Louis may feel like a big small town, but it continues to grow it’s global presence. Each year, WTC-STL takes business leaders and owners on trade missions to make connections and expand markets. This year’s focus is Argentina so I had the pleasure of lunching with Atilio Berardi, Consul General of Argentina to the United States and a member of his staff.

 

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My expert panel discussing global connectivity: Melissa Harper, Vice President of Global Talent and Inclusion & Diversity, Monsanto; John Cruickshank, Consul General of Canada in Chicago: Nancy L. McLernon, President & CEO of the Organization for International Investment (OFII); Julian Gelvez, Sr. International Business Consultant with Southwest Airlines (Photo courtest of World Trade Center St. Louis)

And success breeds success. In 2015, St. Louis was named to the prestigious Brookings Institution – Global Cities Initiative. As a result, the World Trade Center unveiled the Metro Export Plan and JPMorgan Chase’s $125,000 investment to launch St. Louis’ first ever Export Challenge.

Aside from the top prizes, the 15 finalists get one-on-one export mentor support, foreign market research and a full paid scholarship in the online Chancellor’s Certificate in International Trade
program with the University of Missouri St. Louis.

Another year, another Growing Global, another packed ballroom at the Ritz-Carlton full of people eager to cheer on and be inspired by the success of others.

(World Trade Center/St. Louis’ mission: to enhance international trade, promote local economic development, and ultimately foster peace and stability through trade).

 

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