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Exporting: Mission Possible – Two Companies’ Stories

March 3, 2015

This post contains external links. Please review our external linking policy.

Laura Ebert is a Trade Specialist at the International Trade Administration.

First Choice Marine Supply CEO Craig Ruda and interpreter Gabriela Schulten meet with potential distributor Maress Supply in Santiago, Chile

First Choice Marine Supply CEO Craig Ruda and interpreter Gabriela Schulten meet with potential distributor Maress Supply in Santiago, Chile

At the end of last year, 14 companies from the Tampa Bay area in Florida traveled to Santiago, Chile on a trade mission. Led by the Tampa Hillsborough Economic Development Corporation, the companies came armed with market assessments and meeting agendas prepared by the U.S. Commercial Service in Chile. Their mission: to find new export opportunities in Chile.

Joining a trade mission is a great way to learn firsthand about new export markets and meet face-to-face with potential partners and clients. Increasingly, city, state, and regional organizations are teaming up with the U.S. Commercial Service to offer tailored missions for local companies. What is it like to participate in a trade mission? To find out, we recently spoke with two companies that participated in the mission to Chile.

Hydro-Dyne Engineering is a manufacturer of screening and grit removal equipment for water and waste water treatment plants. The company began exporting to help diversify its sales base. Initially, joining the mission was a hard sell to President Jay Conroy. “I was afraid that going down with a government contingency could slow us down and thought we could do it on our own,” said Conroy. “The biggest surprise was how well the mission was organized. Even putting a lot of resources behind it, we wouldn’t have done as good a job on our own.”

Conroy joined the mission with the goal of interviewing and selecting a representative in Chile. For Hydro-Dyne, this kind of long-term commitment is necessary to market its products, provide design and installation support, and build momentum in a market. Conroy was impressed with the quality of the meetings that were scheduled for him. “We went on the mission to find a representative and I am confident we will have one now because of the trip,” Conroy stated. “The icing on the cake was getting to meet with customers who have already asked for proposals on equipment for specific projects.”

His biggest surprise about Chile? How modern it is. “Most water services are privately operated and run like a business looking for a return,” Conroy added.

First Choice Marine Supply designs, manufactures, and distributes solar lighting for the commercial and industrial marine industry, among others. CEO Craig Ruda came across the mission while doing research on expanding to Brazil. He decided to turn his attention to Chile when he learned of the relative ease of doing business there—especially with the Free Trade Agreement (FTA) between the United States and Chile in place. “Given the FTA, Chile’s growing economy, and their interest in new, energy efficient technologies, it just made sense,” said Ruda.

Ruda went to Chile looking to gather market intelligence and to meet a diverse client base. For him, nothing beats face-to-face interactions for getting an assessment of the true capabilities of a potential agent and for establishing trust with clients. He was impressed by how comfortable Chilean companies were with importing and surprised by the strength of the infrastructure there. Does he consider the mission a success? “Yes, we met all our objectives,” Ruda said enthusiastically.

After all the time and effort put into exploring markets halfway around the world, has exporting been good for business? “Absolutely. Exporting has increased our sales and allowed us to hire,” says Conroy. Hydro-Dyne has doubled its staff over the last two years as exporting has become a larger part of the company’s sales. Exports have driven growth at First Choice Marine as well. “About 50 percent of our market is served through exports. Every one of our people has relationships in other countries on a daily basis,” Ruda added.

If you would like to explore export opportunities for your company and learn more about upcoming trade missions led by the International Trade Administration (ITA), visit our trade mission page. For trade missions to Latin American FTA markets led by ITA and state and local partners, visit our Look South events page.

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President Obama Renews Charge to Help Rural Companies and Communities Compete Globally

February 27, 2015

This post originally appeared on the Department of Commerce blog.

Spiral candles proudly made in North Dakota.Yesterday, President Obama announced new commitments in the “Made in Rural America” export and investment initiative, which is charged with bringing together federal trade-related resources for rural communities and businesses. This announcement reflects the Administration’s strategy for ensuring workers and businesses of all sizes, from communities large and small, benefit from the nation’s economic resurgence.

The Department of Commerce also released data yesterday that show 26 states set new export records in 2014, and many of those states are in the nation’s heartland.

The Administration’s next steps in the “Made in Rural America” initiative build on input received from rural businesses and communities throughout the past year.  Following the President’s announcement of the initiative in February 2014, agencies led several regional forums across the country, a Rural Opportunity Investment conference last summer, and new partnerships to help more rural businesses – making everything from amphibious vehicles to aquaculture products – plug in to export assistance.

Last year, we confirmed that rural businesses have the products and services in demand worldwide, and the drive to export – just like urban businesses. The challenge is improving their access to information and export services, including financing and logistics. U.S. Commercial Service – North Dakota Director Heather Ranck and rural companies spoke about that in this “Export Experts” video released last October.

Highlights from yesterday’s announcement include the following:

  • The International Trade Administration has established a new National Rural Export Innovation Team to help more rural businesses access export-related assistance, information and events. The team already has 74 members nationwide.
  • Through the support of the Appalachian Regional Commission, Delta Regional Authority and others, we will double the number of rural businesses served by these partners that international trade shows and missions.
  • The Economic Development Administration (EDA) will launch a new i6 Rural Challenge, based on the previously successful i6 challenges, which will focus on providing funding to rural communities to build capacity for commercializing technology.
  • EDA will establish a mentor-protégé program for rural communities that will help all communities involved learn how to leverage their own assets, build their resources, and foster a culture that drives innovation and entrepreneurial thinking.
  • Agencies will work with state and local partners to raise awareness of federal resources with rural businesses and community lending institutions.  This includes commitments from the Ex-Im Bank, SBA and the Delta Regional authority as well as the U.S. Postal Service’s commitment to host internationally-focused “Grow Your Business” day-long events across the country.
  • The Department of Agriculture and its partners will lead reverse trade missions and ITA will conduct outreach events for rural businesses to meet foreign buyers and commercial experts.

Many at the county, state, and national level responded to the President’s “Made in Rural America” charge, as we saw first-hand in Canonsburg, PA; Memphis, TN; Cortland, NY; Tuscaloosa, AL; Cedar Rapids; Gila County, AZ and Clackamas County, OR. In addition, the Administration has made efforts like Made in Rural America a key priority in our national export strategy, NEI/NEXT.

For more information, visit businessusa.gov/rural-exporting.

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Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker Announces Twenty-Six States Achieved Record Export Levels in 2014

February 27, 2015

A  cargo container ship representing exports.

This post originally appeared on the Department of Commerce blog.

U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker today announced new data that shows 26 states achieved records in goods exports in 2014, while eight additional states experienced growth in merchandise exports over 2013 levels. Total merchandise exports from all 50 states helped the U.S. achieve the fifth consecutive record-setting year of goods and services exports, which reached $2.35 trillion in 2014.

Secretary Pritzker praised today’s announcement stressing the fact exports are critical to economic growth and job creation in communities across the country. “With 95 percent of the world’s consumers living outside the United States, opening more markets to ‘Made in America’ goods and services is fundamental to our nation’s competitiveness, job creation, and the economic security of our families,” she said.

Strengthening partnerships with states and rural communities in support of exporters and investment attraction efforts is a key objective for the second phase of President Obama’s National Export Initiative – NEI/NEXT, which Secretary Pritzker launched in May 2014. Through NEI/NEXT, 20 federal agencies are advancing program and policy improvements to provide exporters more tailored assistance and information; streamline export reporting requirements; expand access to export financing; ensure market access and a level playing field; and collaborate with state and local organizations.

The 26 states that set new records for exports in 2014 include:

  • Texas ($289.0 billion);
  • California ($174.1 billion);
  • Washington ($90.6 billion);
  • Illinois ($68.2 billion);
  • Louisiana ($65.1 billion);
  • Ohio ($52.1 billion);
  • Georgia ($39.4 billion);
  • Indiana ($35.5 billion);
  • Tennessee ($33.0 billion);
  • North Carolina ($31.3 billion);
  • South Carolina ($29.7 billion);
  • Kentucky ($27.5 billion);
  • Wisconsin ($23.4 billion);
  • Minnesota ($21.4 billion);
  • Arizona ($21.1 billion);
  • Oregon ($20.9 billion);
  • Virginia ($19.2 billion);
  • Iowa ($15.1 billion);
  • Maryland ($12.2 billion);
  • Nebraska ($7.9 billion);
  • North Dakota ($5.3 billion);
  • New Hampshire ($4.4 billion);
  • New Mexico ($3.8 billion);
  • Rhode Island ($2.4 billion);
  • Wyoming ($1.8 billion); and
  • Hawaii ($1.5 billion).

In addition, the following states achieved growth in total merchandise exports in 2014: Alabama; Alaska; Maine; Massachusetts; Missouri; Montana; New Jersey; and South Dakota.

More information and additional facts about state exports in 2014 can be found by accessing the full press release.

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What is the SelectUSA Academy?

February 26, 2015

This post contains external links. Please review our external linking policy.

By Genilson Brandao, Outreach and Communications Senior Specialist, SelectUSA

SelectUSA Summit Academy: March 22, 2015, 2:00pm-6:30pmThe 2015 SelectUSA Investment Summit is fast approaching and the excitement around it continues to build. To date, there are more than 2,100 registrants from almost 80 international markets and nearly every U.S. state. The Summit will bring together high-profile business leaders, investors, state and local representatives, and government officials to network and discuss the latest investment trends.

New this year is an important addition for participants who are looking to make the most of their Summit experience: The SelectUSA Academy.

The Academy is an intensive, practical pre-Summit orientation that will give companies, state and local governments, and economic developments organizations (EDOs) the basics on investing in the U.S. market and strategies to attract investment to their locations.

The sessions will offer indispensable analytical tools and information to help participants navigate regulations and investment incentives, investor visas, current foreign direct investment (FDI) and reshoring trends, and more—see the Academy agenda for more details on the sessions and speakers.

You can participate in the Academy in two different tracks:

  1. The Investor Track is designed for potential investors and companies of all sizes who want to learn the basics of investing in the United States.
  2. The EDO Track is tailored to state/local governments and EDOs looking to develop specific strategies for attracting FDI and discuss the latest trends and resources in economic development.

Participants in the SelectUSA Academy will not only gain valuable, first-hand insight from experienced investors, economic developers, and government officials to boost their investment strategies, but they will also have a chance to meet and mingle the night before the Summit. Following the Academy sessions, there will be a special networking reception on Sunday evening for all Academy participants and speakers.

Want to jumpstart your 2015 SelectUSA Investment Summit experience? The Academy has already sparked great interest from international firms, exhibitors, and U.S. EDOs, but there’s still time to join us. To sign up for the Academy, first register for the 2015 SelectUSA Investment Summit at www.selectusasummit.com/registration and then select the “SelectUSA Academy” add-on option. If you are already attending the Summit and want to update your registration to include the Academy, please contact our Summit event planner at info@selectusasummit.com.

About the SelectUSA Summit: The 2015 SelectUSA Investment Summit will be held on March 23rd and 24th and the SelectUSA Academy will be held on March 22nd in the Washington, D.C. area at the Gaylord National Resort and Convention Center. More than 2,500 participants will find the practical tools, information and contacts they need to move investments forward. To learn more and register, visit www.selectusa.gov.

About SelectUSA: Housed within the U.S. Department of Commerce, SelectUSA promotes and facilitates business investment into the United States by coordinating related federal government agencies to serve as a single point of contact for investors. SelectUSA assists U.S. economic development organizations to compete globally for investment by providing information, a platform for international marketing, and high-level advocacy. SelectUSA also helps investors find the information they need to make decisions; connect to the right people at the local level; navigate the U.S. federal regulatory system; and find solutions to issues related to the U.S. federal government.  More information at http://www.selectusa.gov.

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Secretary Pritzker Joins Bipartisan Roundtable on the Benefits of Trade During National Governors Association Winter Meeting

February 24, 2015
Secretary Pritzker Joins Bipartisan Roundtable on the Benefits of Trade During National Governors Association Winter Meeting

Secretary Pritzker Joins Bipartisan Roundtable on the Benefits of Trade During National Governors Association Winter Meeting

 

This post originally appeared on the Department of Commerce blog.

Yesterday, Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker joined a bipartisan roundtable at the White House on the importance of trade and new trade agreements. The meeting was part of the National Governors Association (NGA) Winter Meeting in Washington. NGA is the bipartisan organization of the nation’s governors, and its members include the 55 states, territories and commonwealths of the United States.

Governors John Hickenlooper of Colorado, Gary Herbert of Utah, and Terry McAuliffe of Virginia attended the roundtable, along with Secretary Pritzker, U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, and White House officials.

During the discussion, Secretary Pritzker highlighted how trade has helped drive the nation’s economic recovery and proven beneficial to state’s economies. For example, more than 5,000 Colorado businesses, both large and small, are counted among the ranks of America’s exporters. Exports from Virginia to our free trade agreement partners have grown by 74 percent over the past 10 years, and in Ogden, Utah, exports drove more than 100 percent of growth out of the recession.

Overall, exports support 11.3 million American jobs – which pay up to 18 percent higher than jobs not related to exports. In addition, the Commerce Department announced earlier this month that American exports had hit an all-time high for the fifth year running – sending $2.35 trillion worth of goods and services overseas.

That is why the Obama Administration has set an ambitious trade agenda focused on building on this progress. It will ensure U.S. businesses in every state can access more global markets with fewer barriers.

This agenda includes the completion and implementation of new trade agreements including the Trans Pacific Partnership, which the U.S. is negotiating with 11 other nations. Once completed, TPP will give American businesses free trade arrangements with 40 percent of global GDP.

Secretary Pritzker stressed to the attending governors that in today’s global economy, American prosperity is directly tied to our ability to reach new markets and new customers beyond our borders. Today’s roundtable gave Secretary Pritzker an opportunity to urge the nation’s governors to support trade policies like TPP, and explain why they are essential to the growth of the economy, to the creation of good jobs, to the economic security of American families, and to the competitiveness of our businesses.

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Chamber of Commerce Exec Remains Confident About Middle East Prospects

February 20, 2015

Douglas Barry is an International Trade Specialist for ITA in the Office of Communications and Digital Initiatives, Global Markets.

Discover Global Markets Business ForumDavid Hamod, President & CEO of the National U.S.-Arab Chamber of Commerce in Washington, DC, remains optimistic that the Arab world will solve its problems and that U.S. companies have an important role to play in the region. Last year, Hamod brought that message to the DISCOVER GLOBAL MARKETS: Africa, the Middle East, & India conference. This month, U.S. Commercial Service Officers based in Saudi Arabia and the UAE reiterated that importance when they met with hundreds of U.S. businesspeople at DISCOVER GLOBAL MARKETS: Sustainable Solutions in Santa Clara, California.

Despite ongoing conflict and instability in the region, Hamod said that a major success has been the cooperation councils in the Arabian Gulf. “They’ve been successful in attracting a lot of investment to the region,” he said. “They have some marquis events coming like the Expo 2020 in Dubai, [and] the World Cup 2022 in Doha that will further enlarge the attractiveness to U.S. companies.”

Hamod advises looking at the data carefully to see where help is needed and opportunities abound, noting that U.S. exports to the area are doubling every four years. “Our longer term forecast suggests by the year 2018, U.S. companies will be exporting almost $250 billion worth of goods and services to the region,” he noted. Additionally, there’s a perception that the Arab world has a favorable view of the United States, especially when it involves where to educate their children, get good health care, and take vacations. Hamod believes that people in the region like to do business with Americans.

“They like the fact that Americans are straight forward, and we have something called the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act that helps to cut down on the…under-the-table type of business which serves nobody.”

Hamod said he’s often asked by U.S. companies if the opportunities are only in oil and gas. The answer is an emphatic ‘no’. “For every country in the region, there is a keen effort right now to diversify away from oil and gas.”

“Not every country had it to begin with,” he said. “This area is diversifying, becoming more creative, looking at the natural assets that it has. It is in these efforts to diversify that many different kinds of U.S. suppliers of goods and services will find opportunity.”

One of the best things going for the region, he explained, is its location, with most of the world’s population within an eight-hour flight. “When you look at how the local airlines are now serving the U.S. market, I think it’s going to revolutionize the relationships that we’ve historically had with this part of the world. And you put the new railway lines that are being developed on top of that—there’s going to be a whole new world for U.S. business.”

Hamod advises U.S. exporters to attend future DGMs, noting that it can cost $25,000 to send two people to an area without knowing whether there is a market for your product. It’s better to get expert advice in the United States before you go abroad. For more information, call the nearest U.S. Export Assistance Center to get the ball rolling.

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Recognizing U.S. Exports; Celebrating U.S. Exporters

February 11, 2015

This post contains external links. Please review our external linking policy.

Antwaun Griffin is the International Trade Administration’s Deputy Assistant Secretary for U.S. Operations.

ITA’s Eric Johnson (left) and Antwaun Griffin (center) presented Jeff Carson from House of Cheatham with an Export Achievement Certificate in 2014 to honor the company’s growth in international business.

ITA’s Eric Johnson (left) and Antwaun Griffin (center) presented Jeff Carson from House of Cheatham with an Export Achievement Certificate in 2014 to honor the company’s growth in international business.

When it comes to U.S. exports, there has been a lot of good news this month. For the fifth consecutive year, the United States has set a record for exports, and that trend continues to support our economic recovery.

The trend is part of a concerted effort under the National Export Initiative (NEI) and the NEI Next strategy to support more American companies looking to compete overseas.

I love what the data means for our economy! But what I love more are the business leaders behind those numbers. It is a pleasure to meet these folks and see how exporting is changing their businesses, and helping them grow and add more jobs.

Earlier this year, I had the opportunity to meet John Gray and Nick Carlino from MDI, a wholesale grocery store distributor based in North Carolina. MDI started working with our Export Assistance Center in Charlotte in 2006, and has now achieved five straight years of double-digit export growth. The last two years have seen more than 25 percent growth, a huge feat for a small business. I hope MDI can continue to see that kind of success.

There’s also Atlanta’s House of Cheatham, a hair care and beauty products company, which has been a trailblazer in many smaller global markets, and several markets in Africa. In 2004, international revenues comprised 10 percent of the company’s total revenue. In 2014, that number hit 40 percent. In 2015, I hope the company hits even higher plateaus in global business.

I want to thank and congratulate all the companies that are succeeding in the global marketplace, from California-based CTC Global to Florida-based Hann Powerboats and every company in between.

If you’re ready to join these companies in the global marketplace in 2015, please consider:

  • Attending an upcoming Discover Global Markets business forum to learn how to take advantage of export opportunities across sectors and in a number of promising global markets.
  • Joining us for the Trade Winds—Africa trade mission in September. This is the largest-ever U.S.-government led trade mission to the continent, and Africa is home to seven of 10 the world’s fastest-growing economies. That spells opportunity for your business.
  • Contacting your nearest Export Assistance Center. Our team has a number of helpful events across the country throughout the year, from export workshops to trade shows, and our market research can help you find and succeed in the right markets for your company.

To all the trade specialists and commercial officers in ITA’s Commercial Service, all our state partners, the chambers of commerce, economic development organizations, trade associations and other groups working to support U.S. exports, I say thank you and congratulations on another great year.

I look forward to meeting more of our country’s great exporters in 2015, and to celebrating another great year of Made in America goods and services making their way around the globe.

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