International Trade Mart
The World Trade Mart was chartered in 1945, first opened its doors in 1948, and in 1985, merged with International House to form the World Trade Center New Orleans, a private, non-profit organization with a membership of 2,000 corporations and individuals dedicated to improving trade with New Orleans, Louisiana.
Like its predecessor organizations, the WTC continues to sponsor trade missions to Latin American and Caribbean nations to conduct a variety of educational programs, conferences, seminars, and trade shows and to host dignitaries and other visitors from New Orleans' trade partner nations. The WTC's work is conducted from its 33-story headquarters at the foot of Canal Street.
Trade expansionists advanced their cause further by forming the International Trade Mart (ITM). They intended that IH [International House] and ITM would complement each other and together would form the international program's foundation. The mart satisfied a longstanding ambition for an institution that could exhibit commodities and could provide a setting where buyer and seller could meet easily in New Orleans.
Since the city lacked a manufacturing base, buyers from, say, Mexico might--absent a mart in New Orleans--travel to, say, Toledo to purchase steel or glass. The resulting trade might well bypass New Orleans. But the mart, thought trade expansionists, would maximize the port's chances of handling this trade.
New Orleans businessman Clay Shaw, notable for being tried for conspiracy to assassinate John F. Kennedy, is claimed to be the driving force behind the founding of the International Trade Mart.
- Arthur E. Carpenter. Gateway to the Americas: New Orleans' Quest for Latin American Trade, 1900-1970 (Tulane University, 1987)