Posts Tagged ‘California’

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Bringing Lessons Home From Korea

March 26, 2014
SelectUSA Director Vinai Thummalapally speaks to investors in Korea about services available through the SelectUSA program.

SelectUSA Director Vinai Thummalapally speaks to investors in Korea about services available through the SelectUSA program.

Vinai Thummalapally is the Executive Director of the SelectUSA Program.

South Korea is currently the 16th largest and 14th fastest-growing source of investment in the United States.

That investment has grown rapidly – at a compound annual growth rate of 14.9 percent from 2008 to 2012. The U.S. subsidiaries of Korean companies directly employ more than 32,000 people in the United States, contributing almost $60 billion to the U.S. economy.

These firms export almost $9.7 billion worth of goods from the United States.

Those are great numbers, and we want to see them continue to grow.

To that end, I am excited to announce that our Commercial Service team in Seoul, Korea is hosting a Road Show event on Friday, May 16 – the week before an already announced Japan Road Show. The events will provide an opportunity for U.S. economic development organizations to connect with Korean companies interested in investing or increasing their investment in the United States.

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I recently returned from a trip to Seoul, Korea, where I had the pleasure of meeting with our team at the U.S. Embassy, our partners in the Government of the Republic of Korea, and investors who are interested in setting up shop in the United States. Together we traveled to different companies in Korea to get feedback and talk about their experiences working with the U.S. I also enjoyed sitting down with investors and trade associations to talk about SelectUSA and its services for helping companies expand investment in the U.S. These conversations help inform programming so that participants get the most out of events like the upcoming road shows.

While in Seoul, I joined U.S. Ambassador Sung Kim and Senior Commercial Service Officer Jim Sullivan to welcome officials from Hankook Tires and congratulate them on their announcement of the firm’s first U.S. manufacturing facility in Clarksville, Tennessee. The company is investing more than $800 million in the new plant, which is expected to create approximately 1,800 full-time jobs.

We also met with Samsung to learn more about its significant investments in the United States, including its recently announced project to build a new Silicon Valley R&D Center in Mountain View, California.

Another stop included the Korea International Trade Association (KITA), which represents more than 71,000 companies. We had the opportunity to talk with some of their members about President Obama’s expansion of SelectUSA, including investor visas and how our interagency team at the U.S. Embassy in Seoul – which includes staff from the U.S. Departments of State and Agriculture – can help them invest in the U.S.

We look forward to working with the states, cities, and regional organizations who take advantage of the opportunities at the upcoming Road Show in Korea.

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Export Promotion Makes U.S. the Destination for One-Stop Shopping

December 9, 2013

Richard Swanson is the Pacific South Regional Network Director for the International Trade Administration’s U.S. Commercial Service.

Werner Escher, far right, receives the Peace Through Commerce Medal Award from Deputy Under Secretary Ken Hyatt at the IPW Tourism Summit in June 2013. At far left, Roger Dow, President of the U.S. Travel Association.

Werner Escher (right) receives the Peace Through Commerce Medal Award from then-Acting Deputy Under Secretary of International Trade Ken Hyatt (center) at the IPW Tourism Summit in June 2013. At far left is Roger Dow, President of the U.S. Travel Association.

It is no accident that guests travel from countries like China, Japan, South Korea, Mexico, or regions like Middle East to seek out top brands, fashion, and dining in the United States.

Werner Escher has understood this for four decades. As the director of domestic and international markets for South Coast Plaza in Costa Mesa, Calif., Escher has implemented a strategic plan to cater to international visitors.

His efforts have made South Coast Plaza a major shopping destination for foreign visitors to Southern California, and he was recognized this year by the Department of Commerce with a Peace through Commerce Medal.

“The number one activity of people who travel is shopping,” Escher explains. “We chose to expand South Coast Plaza’s global reach and in so doing placed the retail sector as an integral part of attracting in-bound travelers to the United States.”

That is a customer base that continues to grow. Travel and tourism exports experienced a seven percent increase in the first half of 2013 over the same time period in 2012, totaling $87.1 billion.

What began as several modest promotional trips to Japan in the 1970s blossomed into a truly global marketing effort. In 1987, South Coast Plaza launched its “California Dream Promotion,” one of the largest overseas promotions in the history of the state. It put the shopping center on the map next to other Southern California attractions like movie studios, amusement parks, and zoos.

South Coast Plaza now actively markets in a half-dozen countries, and its foreign language assistance program has translators that speak more than 40 languages.

South Coast Plaza has recently turned its attention toward the growing number of visitors from China. Escher has teamed up with the U.S. Commercial Service to conduct training sessions for retailers on hosting visitors from China, and has spearheaded South Coast Plaza’s annual Lunar New Year celebrations, drawing visitors from China and throughout Asia.

Further solidifying the role of retail in tourism promotion, South Coast Plaza has also actively supported the Orange County Tourism Council’s new China marketing office that opened in Shanghai earlier this year.

South Coast Plaza annually welcomes more than 22 million visitors and a significant number are from overseas. According to Escher, approximately one-third of South Coast Plaza’s annual travelers come from the visitor market segment. South Coast Plaza’s gross sales, approaching $2 billion, is among the highest in the United States and supports thousands of American jobs.

South Coast Plaza has become an important tourism promotion asset in Southern California, contributing to the marketability of the region as a key destination for international visitors. Escher and his team work with the Orange County Tourism Council, the State of California and Brand USA to promote tourism to the United States from across the globe.

In June of 2013, Werner Escher was recognized for “exceptional vision and leadership in growing travel and tourism for the United States in support of President Obama’s National Export Initiative” when he was presented with the Peace through Commerce Medal by then-Acting Deputy Under Secretary of International Trade Ken Hyatt in a ceremony at the International Pow Wow (IPW) Tourism Summit in Las Vegas.

Werner Escher and the South Coast Plaza are excellent examples of the clients that ITA’s Commercial Service help expand their exports and increase their revenues.

Whether you are exporting travel & tourism services, or another product or service, please contact us to find out how we can help your firm achieve success in international markets!

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America’s Small Businesses Find a Competitive Edge with Creativity

June 19, 2013

Michael Masserman and Ashley Zuelke work in the Office of Export Policy, Promotion & Strategy.

People in San Francisco’s Bernal Heights neighborhood know artist Nikolas Weinstein for his cascading glass sculpture at a local restaurant, but U.S. customers are only 10 percent of Weinstein’s business. As we celebrate National Small Business Week, Nikolas Weinstein Studios deserves recognition as proof that – with a product or service that can be sold internationally – no business is too small or specialized to succeed in the global marketplace.


With a team of 10, Nikolas Weinstein Studios produces large-scale glass sculptural installations that hang in luxury hotels, commercial spaces, and private residences across the globe.

Initially, Weinstein met global customers by word-of-mouth. In 2009, they began working with the U.S. Commercial Service in San Francisco to seek counseling on international markets in Japan, China and Hong Kong. Since teaming with the U.S. Commerce Department, their international business has increased more than four-fold. In the past two years, more than 70 percent of their total business has resulted from working with the Commercial Service.

Businesses with stories like Nikolas Weinstein Studios support our efforts under the President’s National Export Initiative to increase U.S. exports and support millions of jobs here at home.  We’re committed to helping all U.S. businesses start selling internationally or expand global sales, but we recognize that small businesses have unique needs. In fact, small businesses represent nearly 85 percent of the companies we help at the International Trade Administration.

Small businesses also account for 98 percent of known U.S. exporting companies, and they are increasing their share of exports. In 2011, small and medium-sized businesses accounted for 33 percent of the overall value of U.S. goods exports – up from 27 percent nine years ago.

We also know small businesses create two out of three net new private sector jobs in our economy.  And today, half of all working Americans either own or work for a small business.

That’s why the Administration has focused its efforts on increasing the number of U.S. small and medium-sized exporters and making it easier for them to access federal export assistance.

We’re working to accomplish this by expanding access to trade financing and ensuring the most efficient delivery of our services to help small businesses establish a foothold abroad, compete on a level playing field, diversify their markets, and support additional good-paying American jobs.

Small businesses like Nikolas Weinstein Studios characterize the American entrepreneurial spirit. At the International Trade Administration, we see American products as the gold standard of quality and innovation. For small businesses interested in the global market, Weinstein has some simple advice – “Remember: American creativity is something people value.”

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Spreading the Word about How to Succeed in Exporting

October 4, 2011

By John Ward, a writer in the International Trade Administration’s Office of Public Affairs.

A conference last month in San Diego, California, brought together more than 1,300 business counselors from around the country. With help from several Department of Commerce bureaus, including the International Trade Administration, participants sharpened their export counseling skills.

RELATED: ITA Joins with Small Business Development Centers to Help U.S. Exporters

Thanks to detailed training sessions that featured export specialists from the International Trade Administration (ITA), other federal agencies, and public and private partners in the trade community, more than 1,300 business counselors from Small Business Development Centers (SBDCs) recently updated their knowledge and skills in how to best help U.S. companies export.

The sessions were part of the annual convention for the Association of Small Business Development Centers, which was held in San Diego, California, on September 6–9, 2011. The SBDCs are a nationwide network of business counseling centers that are hosted by universities, colleges, and state economic development agencies. They are funded in part through a partnership with the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA), and many work closely with ITA’s U.S. Export Assistance Centers (USEACs). There are approximately 1,000 SBDCs located throughout the country.

For More Information

To find the location of the nearest U.S. Export Assistance Center, visit the U.S. government export portal at www.export.gov or contact the Trade Information Center, tel.: 1-800-USA-TRAD(E) (1-800-872-8723). More information about Small Business Development Centers, including links to local offices, is available at www.sba.gov. Click on “Small Business Development Centers” under “Counseling and Training.”

Certification Process

These small business counselors were among those who had the opportunity to learn more about exporting through a series of workshops cohosted by the Trade Promotion Coordinating Committee at the convention of the Association of Small Business Development Centers held in San Diego, California, September 6–9. (photo © Association of Small Business Development Centers)

These small business counselors were among those who had the opportunity to learn more about exporting through a series of workshops cohosted by the Trade Promotion Coordinating Committee at the convention of the Association of Small Business Development Centers held in San Diego, California, September 6–9. (photo © Association of Small Business Development Centers)

By taking the training at the convention, SBDC staff members can qualify for certification as export counselors. The impetus for this training comes from the National Export Initiative (NEI) and the Small Business Jobs Act of 2010.

President Barack Obama announced the NEI in the State of the Union Address in January 2010. It calls for doubling U.S. exports by the end of 2014. The Small Business Jobs Act requires that no less than five individuals or 10 percent of the staff from each of the 63 “lead” SBDCs be qualified as international trade counselors. (A “lead” SBDC is the institution that holds a contract with the SBA. It is responsible for administering and operating the SBDC program within a given jurisdiction, usually a state or territory.)

Introductory and Intermediate Topics

ITA was directly involved in more than 10 exporting sessions at the conference through the work of the Trade Promotion Coordinating Committee (TPCC), which is a federal interagency body that coordinates federal export promotion efforts.

The sessions included introductory and intermediate tracks and covered topics such as export marketing and sales, global logistics and supply chain, export regulations, and international trade payments. Presenters included representatives from the Census Bureau and the TPCC.

The sessions focused on the basics of exporting because SBDC business counselors will be focusing their efforts on the needs of first-time exporters. Companies that are already exporting will be referred to the U.S. and Foreign Commercial Service staff at the local USEAC.

Fulfilling a Mandate for Export Growth

The training sessions come at a propitious moment as the goal date set by the NEI comes closer. This cooperative approach also underscores how small and medium-sized enterprises can benefit when government agencies, along with public–private partnerships, join their complementary skills to more effectively promote U.S. exports.

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One-on-Ones at APBO

March 28, 2011
This post contains external links. Please review our external linking policy.

Cynthia Griffin is the U.S. and Foreign Commercial Serivce’s Senior Commercial Officer in Thailand.

Where else can a U.S. company meet with U.S. Embassy Commercial Counselors from throughout the Asia Pacific region in one day?  Only at the Asia Pacific Business Outlook Conference in Los Angeles.

When the representative of a Florida-based company learned of the Asia Pacific Business Outlook Conference (APBO), she cancelled all of her planned travel to Asia to schedule one-on-one meetings in Los Angeles with Commercial Counselors from her target markets.  Through the one-on-ones, she received customized market research and market entry strategies for her product line on a country-by-country basis.  Armed with the new information gleaned from the Commercial Counselors, she has a better sense of her overall approach to entering new markets in a systematic manner throughout the region.

While it is a challenge to counsel 16 companies back-to-back, the experience is nonetheless exhilarating!!!  I, with the help of my Bangkok-based team, have learned about many new companies with products that are ripe for our market in Thailand.  Today, I met with companies in: construction management, water filtration, cosmetics, skin care, oil and gas, automotive parts, aircraft parts, telecommunications security, construction equipment, education, beverages, energy conservation, medical equipment and consumer electronics.    What a mix of companies!  And all have great opportunities in Thailand.

Below are some snapshots from my meetings with companies and a flavor of the conference that has well over 400 participants.  By all accounts, our keynote speaker during lunch, Ambassador Dino Djalal was engaging and reminded us that America needs to regain confidence and not shy away from the international community, as the international community experiences transformations.

One of my regrets today is that I was unable to participate in the keynote presentation delivered by long-time China specialist Sidney Rittenberg on “What’s Happening in the Chinese Economy–Transformation of the Growth Model.”

Tomorrow, I look forward to another productive day as we strive to double exports in line with the National Export Initiative!   See you tomorrow!

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Someone’s in the Kitchen With…

March 26, 2011
This post contains external links. Please review our external linking policy.

Andrew Wylegala is the U.S. and Foreign Commercial Serivce’s Senior Commercial Officer in Hong Kong.

Day #2 and I am working my way down the Golden State from San Francisco to San Jose on the road to the big Asian exporters’ round-up at USC on Monday, the Asia Pacific Business Outlook Conference.   Colleagues from San Jose’s Export Assistance Center are introducing me to their U.S. clients so I can learn their export needs and introduce Hong Kong’s many business “charms.”  Today I am to trade helix in glass (see previous post) for helix in nucleotides. Those, instant 8th Grade recall tells me, would be the building blocks of our cells, the study of which has spawned San Jose’s latest cluster, a community of scientists and v-cap types forming “The Capital of Biotech.”   Meeting the “brainiacs” and medical pioneers populating this sector makes one proud to “sell American.”  The U.S. biotech industry is one of the innovative champions of our economy. In Northern California, alone, there are over 2,200 biotech companies employing over 267,700 people with an average annual wage of $72,000 a year.  In California, the industry generates an estimated $114 billion in revenues and $15.4 billion in exports.

Tom Moran (left) of Camptologics and Senior Commercial Officer Hong Kong Andrew Wylegala

After I give an hour’s talk about Hong Kong “market opps” to a group of 15 lifesciences companies in San Jose’s gleaming new city hall — and have a Sonoma Chicken fix with the colleagues — it is off to a pair of site visits that bring home the extremes of the innovation–commercialization–export continuum.  The first stop is Mountain View, CA, home of the Googleplex, as well as our target, Mr. Tom Moran, a senior patent attorney and one of three co-founders of biopharmaceutical company Camptologics.  As we sit around the not-just-proverbial kitchen table in Tom Moran’s home, I learn of the anti-cancer drugs which Camptologics hopes to develop and test in the U.S. and China.  Camptologics has just successfully used the Commercial Service to vet partners.  But they have a long road ahead and I am getting a sense of the profound challenges my organization faces in updating our service offerings so we can better help the new types of actors who populate this cutting edge field.

The final stop for the day is further up the line, in terms of geography, and stage/scope of business.  It is time to head to Menlo Park (home of Joan Baez, by the way) to be dazzled by — hold your breath — “a third generation DNA sequencing platform,” a powerful tool that will allow researchers to work better and faster on problems from drug discovery to forensics. Excitement suffuses the Pacific Biosciences campus, for which the firm has recently raised several hundred million in funding from an IPO, and is just one quarter away from realizing exports of its new instruments and consumables.  My San Jose colleague, Gabriela, and I can’t help but be swept up in the thrill, ourselves, as we slip on the protective glasses and clean suits and wonder at a  blur of nanofabrication, chemistry and optics technologies being put on display by this team of world-class scientists and engineers.  But even at this end of the development spectrum, it appears that firms like this one still seek and need USDOC services as much as the back-of-the-napkin set.   I note that one of Pacific’s large, potential customers has just opened up down the road in Hong Kong … and the wheels start turning.   And, as we depart the still-buzzing campus at 5:30 pm, we catch welcome news that our new clients in Menlo Park are considering joining the Biotech Life Science Trade Mission to China which a senior USDOC official will be leading from October 17th of this year.

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Build it…and They Will Export!

March 23, 2011
This post contains external links. Please review our external linking policy.

Andrew Wylegala is the U.S. and Foreign Commercial Serivce’s Senior Commercial Officer in Hong Kong.

San Francisco’s economy is tourists, bankers, Craigslist and, of course, Twitter.  Wrong spot to send a government export promoter looking for more Made in the USA material to help reach the President’s National Export goal of saving or creating some two million jobs by 2015.

Maybe not.

I’ve opted to stop in the services city by the bay en route to the annual Asia Pacific Business Outlook Conference held at the University of Southern California’s business school, where this year 180 US firms will come for updates on Asian markets and export tips, and to hear from Secretary Gary Locke.  The Commercial Service, part of the International Trade Administration, an operating unit in Mr. Locke’s Department, assigned me to Hong Kong to work on behalf of U.S. companies and economic interests about three years ago.  I’ll be joined at the conference by a dozen of my colleagues similarly positioned in other Asian capitals to do the same export enhancing work.  This year I’ve opted to stop in San Francisco to meet with current and future U.S. exporters, in addition to those meeting us in LA for the seminars and one-on-one counseling sessions.

Left to right: Commercial Officer Douglas Wallace, Commercial Officer Andrew Wylegala, and Sculptor/Manufacturer, Capitano di Minuzie Nikolas Weinstein stand on the Weinstein Studios shop floor.

Left to right: Commercial Officer Douglas Wallace, Commercial Officer Andrew Wylegala, and Sculptor/Manufacturer, Capitano di Minuzie Nikolas Weinstein stand on the Weinstein Studios shop floor.

I am standing in the middle of Nikolas Weinstein’s glass sculpture studio located improbably enough behind a Mission District laundromat.  And I am trying to decide which is more shocking — the 30′ undulation of helix-shaped glass tubes of a work in progress, suspended above the furnace, forklift and flat-panel displays of this compact factory, or the discovery that precision manufacture on an industrial scale can still be carried out in San Francisco.  Downtown San Francisco!  We ARE  talking export manufacture.  The vast majority of Nick’s work is destined for grand residences and luxury hotels overseas, mostly in Asian cities such as Singapore and Shanghai.  And we are talking BIG exports.   I learn that — at over 250′ unfurled — the glass “fabric” of a work now soaring above the lobbies of a Shanghai luxury hotel (looking in the glossy photos like one of those Chinese acrobat’s ribbons) and comprised of some 35,000 hand-worked glass tubes, would not have fit in the 747 that brought me here from Hong Kong overnight.  And we are talking innovation.  To execute the unique forms of a Weinstein chandelier I now recall visiting at a Gehry-designed bank headquarters next to the re-constructed American Embassy in Berlin, Nick’s team even had to invent a special matrix bed for the in situ kiln.

But Nick is explaining that it is not finding more projects in booming Asia, nor the glass- and mind-bending technical complexity of his shapes, nor even the delivery headaches of the fragile works that keep him up at night.  It turns out that the chain of glass blowers, metal formers and ceramic suppliers needed to execute these fantasies in glass is nearly as long as some of his installations.  And the nature of this work — one-off, site-specific projects whose execution requires endless iteration of tweak and turn — is such that relative proximity is a must.

So this preview stop of my Business Outlook Conference tour reveals a snapshot as complex and organic as a Weinstein: the offering of conceived- and fabricated-in-the U.S. product remains as rich as ever, but the challenge of keeping U.S. production chains short enough that they remain linked is a daunting one.  I am thinking that U.S. export growth can be part of the solution to this challenge, by providing Nick’s manufacturer partners with sufficient scale and income to stay in business and in Nick’s “neighborhood.”  Should this prove to be the case, we will not only reach that National Export goal but also prove to the world that, “yeah, we DO still make stuff in the U.S.”  The best stuff.

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