NorCham has official launch in D.C.
A new brand, a new vision for NorCham USA and its members
Business & Sports Editor
The Norwegian American
On Oct. 5, NorCham USA was officially born with new energy.
About 100 people gathered in Arlington, Va., including Ambassador Anniken Krutnes, Innovation Norway, members of the Norwegian American business community, Norwegian business leaders, and some of the NorCham chapter presidents and representatives. Each chapter’s logo was displayed. As she concluded her remarks, Krutnes offered cheers, and many shouted out “Skål!”
“There was a great synergy,” said NorCham USA Executive Director Chloe Friberg in an Oct. 18 interview with The Norwegian American. “It was a great evening with a lot of networking and important information exchange. We thought this was a wonderful opportunity to start this new venture together. We recognized each region in speeches. D.C., Philadelphia, Chicago, and Minneapolis were present. Seattle and L.A. were there in spirit.”
Friberg noted that Krutnes and NorCham Chair Idar Voldnes emphasized the importance of these business networks, “that help compliment already existing value add. How can we work together more closely as a Team Norway and ensure that we bring that value for trade and industry cooperation between Norway and the United States?”
The affiliates broke from the New York-based Norwegian American Chamber of Commerce (NACC), which was founded in 1915. This gives NorCham early strength since the chapters already existed and at least the presidents knew each other. Only Miami and Houston have yet to join NorCham.
NorCham USA will be headquartered in Washington, D.C., where there are resources and infrastructure through the embassy and the presence of some major companies. D.C. will have its own chapter separate from the national office.
Friberg was diplomatic in discussing the break. “It’s been a discussion for about 10 years now,” said Friberg. “How can we move more toward a national strategy, having a headquarters that is not focused on only their regional sector?
“Obviously, I can’t speak for the New York chapter or the NACC, but we just had different interests. We reached a point where we exhausted our dialogues and strategic discussions. It was best that we start a different entity. There’s a very friendly and transparent way of how this all transcended. For D.C., we took a bit of the lead since we have the resources here in D.C. This was a well communicated democratic decision across the board.”
To have the ambassador and Innovation Norway present, and Innovation Norway, Lockheed Martin, and Teledyne Flir as sponsors of the event, is impressive.
An exciting agenda:
Collaboration: Friberg has traveled to Houston, Minneapolis, Chicago, and Philadelphia. Among the discussions in Philadelphia was with the proximity to D.C. what can be leveraged between the two cities.
National office: The national office can refer Norwegian businesses to regions that might be more apropos for their product or industry. In some areas, there may be a number of solopreneurs, while others are more corporate. Friberg commented: “I believe that (referral) model also existed previously. That’s something we want to keep intact. NorCham USA can act as an overarching entity, to be that facilitator, helping get those connections set up. We can lend a hand to the different regions that may not have their own administrative staff. We can also help amplify opportunities for the different regions. We want to make sure we provide valuable trade, business focused, commercial focused activities, events, and arenas for our members to partake in.”
Growth: NorCham has plans to expand beyond the former NACC chapters. “Our mindset is we want to be where the Norwegian industry wants us to be,” said Friberg. “We add value to the different regions based on what makes sense for the different regions.”
National membership: Exploring a national membership. “There are companies or organizations that would like to have a national footprint in the organization, and it makes sense for them to have a presence and visibility, not just in Chicago, but across the board,” said Friberg.
U.S. investment in Norway: “Obviously, our focus here in D.C. is to support the Norwegian ventures toward the United Sates,” said Friberg. “We have partnerships with the American Chamber of Commerce in Norway that is doing the other way around, helping more American businesses in Norway. I think all in all, holistically, it’s about creating this bridge and an ecosystem where you facilitate this cooperation and make it easy both ways.”
Increased value back: What should the general membership be excited about? “The different chapters on the regional level have existed for several years,” said Friberg. “The value back to them will remain intact with the aim that this new venture will just add more value to it with more support from a D.C. centralized entity. We think there can also be a very positive snowball effect to the different regions where there may not be an embassy or consulate. How can we tap on the honorary consuls and these business networks to work even more together?”
This article originally appeared in the November 2023 issue of The Norwegian American. To subscribe, visit SUBSCRIBE or call us at (206) 784-4617.