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Made in Rural America: Helping Appalachian Business Sell to the World

February 18, 2014

This post originally appeared on the White House blog.

Earl F. Gohl is the Federal Co-Chair of the Appalachian Regional Commission, a regional economic development agency that represents a partnership of federal, state, and local government established by an act of Congress in 1965.

Forty-two percent of the Appalachian Region’s population lives in rural areas. President Obama’s Made in Rural America export and investment initiative presents a strategic opportunity to expand the region’s exporting sector, grow jobs, and ensure long-term sustainable growth. It is one more example of how the White House Rural Council works to provide economic opportunity in rural America.

Over and over, my travels throughout the region have underscored the role that expanded export markets can have in creating jobs and strengthening local economies. Yet many small businesses in Appalachia view entering the export market as a daunting challenge, something they haven’t really focused on before. The President’s proposal is specially designed to help these rural companies get in the export game by connecting them to export information and assistance. These additional resources will strengthen the capacity of Appalachian business to compete and succeed in the global economy of the 21st century.

Rural enterprises from across Appalachia have a history of demonstrating their competitive success in capturing new export opportunities. In September 2013, an Appalachia USA delegation of 18 home furnishing and wood product enterprises generated over $50 million in new export sales at the FMC international trade show in Shanghai, China. One month earlier, a 22-member mining equipment, technology, and service delegation achieved similar export success from their Appalachia USA pavilion at the Asia-Pacific International Mining Exhibition in Sydney, Australia.

First-time export ventures are a challenge but they offer the potential of significantly expanded markets. At the U.S. Commercial Service 2013 Trade Winds Business Forum in Seoul, South Korea, Appalachia USA delegates from a small manufacturing enterprise in Sistersville, West Virginia seized the opportunity to make their first sales into the global market. It is small manufacturers like this who will have greater opportunities under the President’s plan.

By creating a comprehensive strategy connecting federal resources with rural leaders and businesses to expand exports, the Made in Rural America initiative will bring new and welcome energy to Appalachia’s growing export sector. The President’s initiative will help increase the number of small manufacturers who can succeed, and it will help Appalachian businesses sell to the world.

One comment

  1. Dear Madam or Sir,

    Thanks for this precious infomation!

    we avail ourselves of this opportunity to write to you and offer a business proposal of inviting Made in Rural America to China Market.

    Chimport Fair( China Import Fair), a pure China import-oriented B2N(Business to Nation) exhibition, aims to promote the whole products impression of a Nation or an area so that local brands can enter China market gloriously! For example, the Champagne region of France.

    All exhibitors are overseas brands and visitors are China importers and sales reps. In 2013, Total 47 countries joint our platform and this year, 31,632 China professional importers, sales representatives, shopping malls, and nation-wide chain stores are waiting for you in our platform.

    Now, we officially hand in an invitation of bringing Made in Rural America to the Biggest Consumer Market in the world- China.

    Looking forward to hearing from you soon.

    Best Regards

    China Hu(胡中华)



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