By Internationally-recognized global small business leader and Influencer, Dr. Toby Malichi, Hon.D.Bus., D.H.L., Founding Executive Chairman and Global Head of Development, Investment & Diplomacy at Malichi Group Worldwide – www.malichi.com
Who is Indiana’s “Institutional Knowledge” on Trade and Exporting? You Might Be Surprised!
You are probaby wondering what is the importance of international trade or exporting to Indiana or my small business? How do I take or expand my business globally? Why should I care about China, India or Africa, and their impact on my small-and-medium-sized enterprise (SME), the City of Indianapolis, the State of Indiana or the USA? What role does The White House Administration or Congress play in ratifying foreign policy, free trade agreements or attracting foreign direct investment, etc. These and other trade-related issues, international affairs, and your questions will be addressed in my Bi-weekly global column. For an example. I will be having a private lunch with Consul General Somnath Ghosh of India here in Indianapolis on Tuesday, January 10th. Afterwards, I will be able to brief small-and-medium-sized enterprises and my followers on the G20 and India’s advancing financial initiatives for SMEs.
This inaugural article won’t be about answering the aforementioned questions, but more about Indiana’s “Institutional Knowledge” on who were the initial key players that laid the foundation for positioning Indiana’s export trade on the global stage, and as Governor Eric Holcomb says, “Bringing Indiana to the World and the World to Indiana”.
In my view it was Indiana Governor Bob Orr and his Lieutenant Governor John Mutz’s Administration that started it all. Alan Kimball was the Director of the then Indiana Department of Commerce and his Executive leadership team was Nathan Feltman, that’s right, the same Nate Feldman that Co-owns and is the Publisher of the Indianapolis Business Journal, Caterina Blitzer, who I call Ms International, and my outstanding colleague now on the Indiana District Export Council (Where I am the first Black immediate-past Vice Chairman), Bob Mason, and Larry Ingram who was Head of Indiana’s Japan Office in Tokyo, just to name a few. Governor Evan Bayh continued expanding Indiana’s exports, and that’s when I begin to diversify my company (after resigning from General Motors Corporation) into international trade. Subsequently, I was serving on the Indiana Small Business Council of the Indiana Chamber of Commerce, and was elected as its first Black Vice Chairman and Chairman, simultaneously serving on the board of directors and executive committee of the Indiana Chamber of Commerce.
I remember when then, Indiana U.S. Senator Dan Coats telling me in 1988 at a minority business meeting at the Madame Walker, that international trade was not a business for the faint-hearted. Truer words were never spoken. After an Indiana Trade Delegation, myself included, attended America’s first ever export conference held in Seattle, Washington (March, 1990) to learn more about exporting. That same Delegation was invited as Indiana’s first trade Delegation to Osaka, Japan (October, 1990) to attend Japan’s Global Business Opportunity Conference (G-BOC). That’s where I got my start into exporting doing deals with Japan and Australia. To this day, I have never experienced any racism or prejudice in any foreign country that I have traveled to. It’s fallacious and sad that I can’t say the same for Indiana. Thank God for Mr. Daniels, one of the founders of the Japan America Society of Indiana (yes, the Father of former great Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels), who invited me to join the JASI, and really taught me a lot about doing business in Japan, under the first, and outstanding Executive Director Teresa Kulzack. I learned a lot from him. What a gentleman.
We’ve been extremely fortunate to have great Governors in Indiana who were visionaries with a global perspective. Indianapolis has had great Mayors who had a global vision such as Bill Hudnut, Steve Goldsmith, where as a board member of the Indianapolis Economic Development Corporation, I helped develop strategies and the framework for his Global Initiative Plan (1992), which included plans for the new airport, and the Red line. Indy Mayor Greg Ballard also advanced trade and investment. And of course, Mayor Jim Brainard of Carmel and the roundabouts, and the increasing influx of global ccompanies. And who could forget the late Dr. Bert Servass, President, Indianapolis City County Council, Owner of the Saturday Evening Post, and his vast Export Trading Companies.
David Watkins, Vice President of the Indiana Small Business Development Centers (ISBDC), Incidentally, I helped bring them to Indiana back in the mid 1980s, paid me the best compliment. “Dr. Malichi has been doing trade deals and exporting before we had manuals.” I love that!! I’ve been called a Pioneer, Trailblazer, Chairman of International Trade, World Citizen and Ambassador of Trade for Indianapolis and Indiana by former Secretary of Commerce Jim Schellinger, and by my contemporaries.
Perhaps, one day in Indiana, “I will be judged by the content of my character and not by the color of my skin.” For my wisdom, knowledge, experience, expertise, and passion for trade. One can only hope and pray.
Perhaps, that day is January 13, 2023 when the Indiana Minority Business Magazine and the Indianapolis Recorder Newspaper will honor me at the Champion Diversity Awards Dinner with the – Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Freedom Award. It’s taken 41 years in global business to be recognized by the Indianapolis Black business community. Perhaps, perhaps, this will be the evidence-based impact pivot for Diversity, Equity & Inclusion for those of us who’s global body of work are duly noted at the highest of levels around the globe? “The proof is in the pudding”.
As I always say, We doze but never close. Have a successful day and think globally!
For questions or comments email: Dr.Toby@malichi.com and follow @DrTobyMalichi on LinkedIn