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Ohio Preps to Support the Next Generation of Exporters

October 20, 2014

Todd Hiser is a Senior International Trade Specialist at the U.S. Export Assistance Center in Cleveland, Ohio.

Small map of U.S. Midwest with Ohio highlightedCall it a trend. For three straight years, Ohio has set records for annual state exports.

In 2013, the state exported $50.8 billion in goods, with transportation making up 32 percent of the export total.

It’s certainly something to celebrate, as those exports support more than 259,000 jobs. But rather than spend  time celebrating, Ohio is moving to prepare the next generation of exporters.

The Ohio Export Internship Program, a collaboration between the Ohio Development Services Agency and Youngstown State University’s Williamson College of Business Administration, is a special track for students looking to contribute to the future of global businesses in Ohio. The program features a specially-designed exporting course in the spring, followed by an export-related internship in the summer.

What does this mean for Ohio? It means we are helping create a global fluency among tomorrow’s business leaders. It means we are giving tomorrow’s workforce the skills necessary to succeed in tomorrow’s business environment – a global business environment. Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker has called for trade to become part of the DNA of our economy. This is how we make that happen.

There’s still time for students to apply for the internship, and any students interested in global business should apply.

As the world continues to seek out the quality products we make here in Ohio, I’m excited to see how the interns who graduate from this program enable more companies to meet that demand.

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ITA Hosts 7th Annual U.S. Industry Program At the International Atomic Energy Agency for U.S. Civil Nuclear Industry Delegation

October 16, 2014
DAS for Manufacturing Chandra Brown and other U.S. Government officials with the U.S. industry delegation at the 7th annual IAEA U.S. Industry Program

DAS for Manufacturing Chandra Brown and other U.S. Government officials with the U.S. industry delegation at the 7th annual IAEA U.S. Industry Program

Chandra Brown is the Deputy Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Manufacturing.

The Department of Commerce estimates the global civil nuclear market to be worth $500-740 billion over the next ten years, meaning there are significant export opportunities for U.S. companies.

That’s why our team at the U.S. Department of Commerce’s International Trade Administration (ITA) organized the 7th Annual U.S. Industry Program at the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) General Conference in Vienna, Austria.

This program helps U.S. civil nuclear companies and organizations from across the supply chain to showcase their world-class technology to key foreign government decision makers and energy policymakers from around the world. U.S. companies are the global leaders in the field, and this event gives them the chance to prove it.

Chandra Brown, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Manufacturing in ITA’s Industry & Analysis (I&A) unit, led the U.S. industry delegation for the second consecutive year.

The event featured a delegation of 47 representatives from 25 leading U.S. civil nuclear technology and service providers. The program received strong support from the U.S. Departments of State and Energy, the National Security Council, and the U.S. Export-Import Bank.

Some of the program highlights included:

  • Fifteen meetings with foreign government delegations from top target markets, including China, the UAE, Saudi Arabia and Japan;
  • A Roundtable dialogue with U.S. policymakers, led by Secretary of Energy Ernest Moniz, Nuclear Regulatory Commission Chairman Allison Macfarlane, and White House Director for Nuclear Energy Policy Joyce Connery;
  • A U.S. exhibit where foreign delegates could learn more about the participating U.S. companies;
  • Over 90 one-on-one meetings with CS staff from ten top markets brought to Vienna specifically for the event.

The event occurred just before a recently announced milestone in U.S. civil nuclear trade – the October 3rd announcement that the U.S.-Vietnam agreement on civilian nuclear energy cooperation (123 Agreement) has entered into force. This agreement enables bilateral commercial nuclear trade between the U.S. and Vietnam and will help U.S. industry to gain greater access to a market worth as much as $20 billion dollars.

The U.S. Industry Program at the IAEA has become a flagship ITA event and enables the U.S. Government and U.S. industry to engage in a coordinated manner with potential foreign buyers from both emerging markets and mature markets.

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More Mini Babybel, Made in South Dakota

October 10, 2014

Felicia Pullam is the Director of Outreach for the SelectUSA Program, part of the International Trade Administration.

Leaders from Bel Brands USA and the Brookings, SD community joined to cut the ribbon on a new facility that will support an estimated 250 new jobs.

Leaders from Bel Brands USA joined South Dakota state officials and leaders from the Brookings community to cut the ribbon on a new facility that will support an estimated 250 new jobs.

SelectUSA has about 250 reasons to congratulate Bel Brands USA and Brookings, SD, for their new investment agreement!

Why 250? Because that’s the estimated number of jobs supported by a $144 million, 170,000 square-foot Mini Babybel facility that just opened in Brookings.

Bel Brands USA is a subsidiary of the Paris-based Bel Group, and currently employs nearly 1,000 people in Illinois, Kentucky, Wisconsin, and South Dakota. In fact, the company has been named one of Chicago’s “101 Best and Brightest Companies to Work For” six years in a row.

This new facility is a great example of how foreign direct investment (FDI) creates U.S. jobs, builds skills, and links markets. Companies from France employed nearly 525,000 U.S. workers in 2011. The total stock of FDI from France in the United States was $239 billion in 2013 – the fifth highest of any country.

Bel Brands USA decided to invest in the United States because it is now the top market for Mini Babybel cheese. In fact, sales volumes of Mini Babybel increased by 24 percent in 2013 – that’s roughly 10,000 tons of cheese last year.

They researched several locations across the country, and their decision to set up shop in Brookings was driven by three key factors:

  • Access to raw materials – More specifically, access to competitively priced milk. They will be processing a whopping 500,000 pounds of milk per day, purchased through two dairy co-ops in the region.
  • Business-friendly environment – The state and local governments worked closely with the company. For example, the South Dakota Department of Labor has been helping with recruitment efforts to ensure Bel Brands USA finds the talent they need. They had great turnout at a “walk-in” interview event in August, and they’re still moving full steam ahead on hiring.
  • Collaboration opportunities – The company was impressed by what South Dakota State University has to offer. Graduates of the Dairy Science program will help build a strong and lasting workforce. Bel Brands USA partnered with the biochemistry program in creating a lab in the new facility, and they are exploring other ways to cooperate.

What does this case study mean for other companies investing in the United States? Businesses all have particular factors that are critical to their competitiveness, varying by industry, business model, and strategy. Given the size and incredible diversity of the U.S. market – most companies can find exactly what they need in this country to be successful. With creativity and communication, local communities across the United States can be partners in this success.

How can SelectUSA assist? SelectUSA, the U.S. government-wide program to facilitate investment housed within the International Trade Administration, stands ready to assist investors to understand the U.S. market, gather data, and connect with the right people. If there are questions or issues related to federal rules and regulations, SelectUSA serves as an ombudsman to help companies find clarity. SelectUSA also works with state and local economic development organizations to provide counseling and information, a platform for promotion, and investment advocacy.

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Discovering Greater China Through Long-Term Plans, Serious Relationship-Building, Finding Good Partners

October 9, 2014

Jim Cox is the Regional Director of the U.S. Commercial Service’s Northeast Network, which is part of the International Trade Administration.

Image of three people meeting at a table and having a discussion at Discover Global Markets in New York

Our DISCOVER forums feature individual counseling sessions between your business and U.S. commercial diplomats who can help develop export strategies for specific markets.

When it comes to exporting to China, there is a world of opportunities for U.S. companies.

But there are also many hurdles to overcome.

That’s why our Commercial Service team brought together dozens of industry experts, U.S. commercial diplomats, and successful exporters for the DISCOVER GLOBAL MARKETS: Greater China event in New York City this week.

With more than 300 innovative and ambitious U.S. business representatives in attendance, we discussed market intelligence, best practices, and strategies to compete and win in some of the world’s fastest-growing markets.

Through one-on-one counseling sessions, we helped more than 90 individual companies develop their strategy for entering new markets.

And we learned some great information from business leaders that are already doing business in the region.

Like that when you’re vetting a potential partner in China, a great way to find information about them is to do a web search for their fax number.

Or that Chinese people are very guarded about trusting potential business partners, so you’ll have to put a lot of work into developing a trusting personal relationship in order to create a successful business relationship.

Our District Export Council told us some great information about etiquette, like that Chinese business leaders see a business meal as a place to relax and break the ice, so working through meals can actually harm your chances of striking a deal.

Bottom line: The markets of Greater China aren’t always the easiest to enter, but they do offer a return that could be well worth the investment of time your business will have to make.

To the panel members, marketing partners, and attendees who made our event the success that it was, I give many thanks. I am certain that we will see some great success stories about businesses creating new business in Greater China.

If you couldn’t make this event, trust me – you need to check out the upcoming DISCOVER events. Register for them. And succeed because of them.

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For World Octopus Day, 8 Reasons to Attend a DISCOVER GLOBAL MARKETS Business Forum

October 6, 2014

Our team is in New York now, supporting our DISCOVER GLOBAL MARKETS: Greater China business forum. While we’re here, we’ll also celebrate World Octopus Day (of course) on Oct. 8.

In honor of the day, here are eight reasons your business should attend an upcoming DISCOVER event:

  1. One-on-One Counseling: One size doesn’t fit every business, and that’s why we offer the opportunity for you to meet one-on-one with our commercial diplomats. Get a tailored plan for your business, taking into consideration your industry, your target market, your goals, and your resources.
  2. Networking: Find new partners, make new connections, secure new business. That’s what our networking sessions help you find, and our events feature some of the world’s leading companies. It’s a great opportunity for you!
  3. U.S. Commercial Diplomats: These folks live and work in your target markets and there’s no one with more knowledge of opportunities, regulatory considerations, market potential, and business contacts than our team.
  4. Focus on Key Markets: We didn’t pick our markets out of a hat. These forums focus on the markets that present the most opportunity for your business: free trade partners, the Americas, Africa, and China. Like the octopus that picked so many winners in the 2010 World Cup, our team can pick the winning markets for your business.
  5. Focus on Industry: Our upcoming events in Minneapolis and Silicon Valley focus specifically on healthcare and sustainable industries. For our region-specific events, we have a variety of industry experts to support you. So no matter which event you choose to attend, we will have the expertise there for your industry.
  6. Buyer Delegations: For many of these events, we bring opportunities to you when qualified, pre-screened buyer delegations from major markets come to DISCOVER to meet your business. What better return on investment for attending an event than a newly signed business deal?
  7. Opportunities: Not every business inks a deal at our forums, but every business does learn about new opportunities. Come join us at an upcoming event in Charlotte, Atlanta, or Minneapolis and let us help you find new opportunities.
  8. Intelligence: Whether it’s details about a developing market or details about a new government program, DISCOVER events provide your business the intel it needs to take the next step on its export plan.

So what are you waiting for? Learn more about our upcoming events and register now!

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Celebrating One of Florida’s and the Nation’s Key Industries on Manufacturing Day

October 3, 2014

Chandra Brown is the Deputy Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Manufacturing. 

A manufacturing worker works on an automobile engine.

Manufacturing supports 17.4 million U.S. jobs.

Happy Manufacturing Day!

There are more than 1,500 Manufacturing Day events taking place across the country today, highlighting the importance of the manufacturing industry to the U.S. economy, American jobs, and to global innovation.

I am in Tampa, Florida, to tour three manufacturing facilities and meet the local manufacturing community.

I will visit these businesses today with Sandra Campbell of Tampa’s Export Assistance Center, and we’ll join students, teachers, parents, job seekers and other local community members at open houses designed to showcase the innovation taking place in modern manufacturing and the professional opportunities that are available in the industry.

Touring manufacturing facilities, discovering their amazing abilities, and meeting the next generation of manufacturers are always the best parts of my job!

Today we’ll be visiting:

  • Microlumen is a major producer of surgical quality heart tubing and a major exporter: microlumen.com.
  • Southern Manufacturing Technologies is a leader in precision machined components and assemblies primarily for the aviation and aerospace industry: smt-tampa.com.
  • Lockheed Martin (Tampa Bay plant) specializes in metal forming, fabrication and assembly of components for many of the company’s major programs: lockheedmartin.com.

I’m especially looking forward to meeting with the local high school students to discuss the rewarding and challenging careers that manufacturing has to offer.

A few facts to remember on this important day:

  • Manufacturing supports 17.4 million U.S. jobs.
  • Manufacturing career opportunities include engineers, designers, machinists, and computer programmers.
  • The annual average salary of manufacturing workers is more than $77,000, which is approximately 17 percent more than similar workers employed in other sectors.
  • For every $1.00 spent in manufacturing, the sector creates $1.32 for the U.S. economy.

If you’re not in Tampa Bay, there are plenty of other opportunities for you to connect to your local manufacturing community, and I hope you’ll do so today.

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Exporting is a Hit for HIT

September 30, 2014

Doug Barry is a Senior International Trade Specialist in the International Trade Administration’s Global Knowledge Center.

Photo shows a square of HIT's smart materials that repaired themselves after being punctured.

HIT’s smart materials are designed to “heal” themselves when punctured. More than half of the company’s jobs are supported by international business.

What happens if you have a fuel container and it gets punctured? You’re probably going to lose your fuel. Depending on what punctures your container, you could also have an explosion.

Unless your fuel container is made of “smart” materials, like the materials developed by Oregon-based High Impact Technology, or HIT.

Results look like magic as the company’s smart materials seal up bullet holes before contents can spill and catch fire. HIT also makes treatments to protect power plants from everything from storms to terrorist attacks.

More than half of HIT’s employees work on the international side of the business, so exports have been crucial for the company. HIT has also worked with the International Trade Administration’s (ITA) Commercial Service office in Portland, Ore., to expand in global markets.

HIT Director of Operations Russ Monk discussed how business is going with Doug Barry of ITA’s Global Knowledge Center.

Barry: You became an exporter via the U.S. military, which is not an uncommon channel for smaller companies that work with the U.S. Commercial Service.

Monk: That’s right. We monitor U.S. government procurements and we spotted one for the Department of Defense a number of years back. At the time, enemy attacks on fuel convoys coming into Iraq was problem number one on the planet for the Department of Defense. We were invited to demonstrate our solution and selected two weeks later.

Barry: What is the chemistry behind your solution?

Monk: Resins are mixed under very high pressure to form a urethane coating. It also has a reactive chemistry in the matrix. Simply put, an internal cork is formed to prevent the flammable liquids from leaking out and igniting. We hold half a dozen patents on the process. Our main mission is to protect soldiers. We won’t make things that harm people.

Barry: What other customers do you have?

Monk: We sell to Germany, Canada, and Russia. We will ship soon to Singapore and the United Arab Emirates. We’ve had a request for quotes from Turkey and the United Kingdom.

Barry: How important are international sales to your business?

Monk: Hugely important. Thirty-percent of our sales are international. More than half of our 40 employees, including supply chain jobs, work on the international side of the business. When our infrastructure barricades get rolled out, we expect to expand in all markets.

Barry: What kinds of assistance have you received from the government?

Monk: You really help small U.S. companies like ours. Trouble is you’re a best kept secret. Maybe I shouldn’t share you, but I do. We rely on you to introduce us to new markets. When the U.S. Commercial Service folks at the Embassies join us in meetings with government officials in, say, the United Arab Emirates, it really makes a difference. We get instant credibility from the host government. We attend seminars at the local Export Assistance Centers—on export controls and regulations. They’ve been invaluable. And we’ve taken advantage of the STEP grant—federal funds administered by the State of Oregon that helped us attend an international trade show.

Barry: Thank you for helping us become less of a secret. What’s been the biggest lesson for you in going global?

Monk: Have patience. It takes time to learn the business culture. It’s easy to get spoiled if you deal just with other Americans. When you operate globally, you need to have a long horizon. We could speed things up by paying bribes in countries where it’s a common practice, but we won’t do it and never will. Good technology trumps graft. That is the (American) advantage. The Commerce Department represents some of the best taxpayer dollars spent and has greatly enhanced our offering to the world.

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