Posts Tagged ‘export assistance’

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ITA: Helping Businesses of Any Sector Create Exports

March 5, 2013

Chris Higginbotham is a Communication Specialist with the International Trade Administration’s Office of Public Affairs.

Deana Shick is an international trade specialist with the International Trade Administration.

Deana Shick

Health care businesses in the Pittsburgh area go to Deana Shick if they have questions about exporting their products.

So do plastics companies. So do apparel companies. And so do chemical companies.

“We will help any American business in any sector – whether it’s veterinary equipment or ballistic glass or water sanitation,” Shick says.

The “we” she refers to is the International Trade Administration, or ITA. Shick is an international trade specialist in ITA’s Pittsburgh office, where she helps primarily small- and medium-sized businesses in the area learn how to compete on the global market. ITA supports the Obama administration’s mission to grow U.S. exports under the National Export Initiative.

“A lot of what we do is demystify exporting,” Shick says. “We hear a lot of businesses ask, ‘How can my small business compete globally?’ We help them do it.”

This help doesn’t just exist in Pittsburgh. ITA has more than 100 offices in the U.S. and in 70 countries around the world. Businesses can contact these offices to get help from experts in fields varying from aeronautics to agriculture, electronics to textiles.

Matt Hein is an international trade specialist with the International Trade Administration

Matthew Hein

ITA’s help doesn’t just exist in these offices either. Shick teamed up with Matthew Hein, an international trade specialist at ITA’s headquarters in Washington, DC, to host a webinar for the Micro-Electrical Mechanical Systems (MEMS) Industry Group back in January (view a replay of the webinar ). The MEMS Industry Group (MIG) represents companies in the MEMS field and provides access and connections for member organizations to traditional and emerging markets.

“We used the webinar to inform these businesses about our capabilities,” Hein said. “We help businesses learn how to compete globally; we help them conduct research and develop strategy; we help them gain access to foreign markets. There are countless ways in which we can help and we love to do it.”

“The International Trade Administration’s webinar provided invaluable information on their products and services to MEMS Industry Group’s members,” said Karen Lightman, Managing Director, MEMS Industry Group.

“The small to medium-sized enterprises among our 140-plus member companies that have limited exporting experience will gain access to a ready and willing partner that can help them succeed at exporting,” Lightman continued.

No matter how small your business or obscure your product is, ITA is uniquely suited to help you create or increase exports. Whether it’s helping you make contacts in foreign markets, conducting research about potential buyers or helping you understand foreign shipping, ITA’s specialists are ready to assist.

“My favorite part of this job is seeing small- to medium-sized businesses make their first sale overseas and they’re able to add a couple of jobs down the line,” Shick says.

It’s a part of the job everyone at ITA enjoys. So how can we help your business or industry increase exports and create jobs? Contact one of our trade specialists in your area to find out how ITA can help your business succeed.

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Hard Work and a Desire to do Better Powers this California Company around the World

July 12, 2012

Doug Barry is a Senior International Trade Specialist in the Trade Information Center, U.S. Commercial Service within the International Trade Administration.

Kusum and Mukund Kavia were a young married couple who came to the U.S. from Bangladesh via London. They settled in the U.S. with very little money but had their youth and the immigrant’s determination to succeed—a kind of secret sauce in the creative curry that is Southern California. Currently, their company works in 10 countries and will soon add Iraq to the mix. 90 percent of revenue comes from international sales.

In 2011 at a White House ceremony the company received the Presidential “E”- Award for excellence in exporting.  Combustion Associates is a client of the Export Assistance Center in Ontario, California.  I recently spoke with them about their story.

One of Combustion Associates 80 MW power plants being assembled in Benin, West Africa (Photo Combustion Associates, Inc.)

One of Combustion Associates 80 MW power plants being assembled in Benin, West Africa (Photo Combustion Associates, Inc.)

Barry:  You own Combustion Associates, Inc.  What do you do there?  Combust?

Mukund:  You are very close.  We design and build power generation systems using aero-derivative turbines, the kind which power aircraft. Our company provides modular power plants in the range from 1-megawatt to 10-megawatt.  Now, a 1-megawatt is the size of a 40-foot container and can power 1,000 U.S. homes.  So, when we take it to emerging countries such as Africa or East Europe or Central America, they can power villages.

Barry:  Since these villages aren’t on a national power grid, having reliable electricity helps in a variety of ways.

Mukund:  Absolutely.  Our units are there not only for power but to really help the local economy grow.

Barry:  When did you get started?

Mukund:  We started in 1991 with just a 200 square foot office.  Today, there are 60 employees with a 40,000 square foot facility.

Barry:  What was the biggest challenge the company faced getting started in the international marketplace?

Mukund:  We were not recognized in the industry.  So being a small company, we had to make a name for ourselves out there.

Barry:  How’d you do that?

Kusum:  We partnered with the U.S. Commercial Service (of the Department of Commerce) to spread our name, spread what we did, and that really elevated us to a level that we were able to be in front of the customer at the international level. Since the Commercial Service has representatives in these countries they can help find buyers for us. In some case we invite prospective customers to our facility in California.

Barry:  How did this work in the early days of the business?

Kusum:  It was interesting. We didn’t have a suitable place to meet.  One of the biggest things that I remember Fred Lauterperisa (the director of the Export Assistance Center) doing is opening up his office to us.  When I called him, he said, ‘please use my conference room.’  And that’s what we did.  We actually had our customers meet us at the U.S. Commercial Service in Ontario (California) and utilize their conference room. 

Barry:  What else did Fred do for you?

Kusum:  He also arranged for representatives of the Export-Import Bank of the U.S to attend the meeting and discuss Bank programs that provide loan guarantees to the U.S. companies for extended payment terms and money for more inventory.  Funding is also available for foreign buyers to purchase U.S. products from companies like ours.
 
Barry:  I take it that government export promotion programs have been something of a gold mine for you. 

Kusum:  The government both at the local, state and federal levels really go out of their way to help businesses blossom and grow.  And we have found that everywhere that we have gone and told people about our story, they have opened up and they have said ‘how can we help you?’

Barry:  What advice do you have for other U.S. companies that haven’t entered the global market because of fear of failure, lack of knowledge or other reasons?

Kusum:  Don’t limit yourself.  You’re already doing something that you know is your passion.  All you have to do is get out of your comfort zone and don’t limit yourself. You’re going to have different challenges – some new, some old.  But I would encourage everyone that is looking to export to say, ‘Please, why haven’t you thought of doing that?’  As Americans, I believe that all of us want to reinvent ourselves. We want to be the best we can be so that we are able to export U.S. products overseas that are quality, cost-effective and really a win-win for the countries that we’re doing business with.  At the same time, we want to go out there again and do so much more for this great country of ours, which really is a welcoming opportunity for anybody that wants to work hard and do better.

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The President’s Export Council Visits Capitol Hill

July 20, 2011

Dominique Griffith is an intern for the International Trade Administrations’ Office of Advisory Committees. He is a rising senior at American University, studying International Relations.

Last week, staff representatives of the President’s Export Council (PEC) along with administrative officials held staff briefings on Captiol Hill on the role of the PEC and its recent work. The PEC is the principal advisory committee on international trade to the executive branch. These briefings, which were done separately for the House of Representatives and the Senate, addressed the PEC’s background (the administration, the private sector, and the congressional role), trade policy, export assistance, small business and workforce assistance, and success measuring for U.S. businesses.

Our staff representative for Xerox pointed out that when, the CEO of Xerox, Ursula Burns, was asked to be the Vice Chair of the PEC she wanted make sure this particular PEC focuses on “measurement and accountability.” In other words, she did not want the PEC to only discuss ideas on how to help U.S. exporters, she wanted to see action. She also wanted to have this action recorded and measured. The PEC has requested this measuring trend so that the Administration can truly see action and progress on policies for which businesses have been advocating.

As an intern for ITA’s Office of Advisory Committees, I assist staff members with tasks such as writing briefing papers and industry research. That being said, one of the most rewarding projects I’ve had a chance to work on has been the “balanced score card” for the PEC’s recommendations. The score card included the PEC’s recommendations, polices that have been implemented thus far, and what actions the Administration will be taking to be responsive to the recommendations. Some of the recommendations included advocating for the passage of the pending Free Trade Agreements, visa reform, enhancement of our transportation infrastructure, and better coordinated export assistances for small and medium enterprises (SMEs). The PEC’s recommendation on transportation infrastructure was particularly interesting to me because it outlined how reliable transportation and infrastructure can help the flow of exports which are essential to our economy. For example, the Department of Transportation’s second round of TIGER (Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery) grants focused on financing infrastructure projects that would enhance exports. Another recommendation that is being implemented is on Export Control Reform. Just yesterday, White House Chief of Staff Daley discussed how critical these reforms are so I’m looking forward to see how the PECSEA (the PEC subcommittee that focuses on export controls) moves forward on it’s ideas to strengthen national security through reforming the U.S export control system.

After reading through the recommendations and seeing how the Administration has responded, I soon began to realize how implementing the PEC recommendations will lead to an increase in exports and get our economy back to where it needs to be. Last week’s Hill briefings were a success and although I am only an intern, I know that the work we do with the PEC is vital to the Administration and especially to businesses across the country.

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