A networking and educational trade association to promote international business was a new concept to Huntsville and North Alabama in 1983. The North Alabama International Trade Association was established in 1983 and incorporated in 1986. NAITA is managed by the Madison County Commission International Trade Development Center (ITDC).
Anne Burkett, ITDC Director, NAITA Executive Director, and one of NAITA’s original founders says, “It took a group of forward-thinking individuals who recognized the need to provide a forum to discuss and learn about business opportunities in the global marketplace.” Since that time, the organization has grown to more than 400 members, representing almost 90 North Alabama firms and other organizations.
NAITA’s impact on the North Alabama business community is undeniable. The 2000 survey of international trade activity by Madison county firms showed a nearly 300 percent increase in local exports over the previous decade. The Madison County Commission is currently gathering new data to update the survey.
NAITA provides a means for local Government and Industry to work together to promote trade development. The public/private cooperative effort between NAITA and the Madison County Commission’s International Trade Development Center (ITDC) plays a major role in North Alabama trade development efforts. “Growth for our companies in the international market means the expansion of our job and tax bases. It usually means good quality jobs for our residents, as well as increased tax revenue for our community. International trade development makes good economic sense,” says Madison County Commission Chairman Mike Gillespie, an early leader in the founding of NAITA.
Rick Tucker, Port of Huntsville Executive Director, is another leader who recognized North Alabama’s potential in the emerging global economy. “North Alabama has a rich history of uncommon vision and leadership which has resulted in the growth and development of an outstanding global community in which to live and do business,” he said.