Posts Tagged ‘Exporting’

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Duluth Export Summit

January 22, 2010

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Amelia Goeppinger is an International Trade Specialist serving in the Minneapolis U.S. Export Assistance Center with the International Trade Administration’s U.S. Commercial Service.

Last week, I had the pleasure of participating in a significant export summit led by Sen. Amy Klobuchar in Duluth, Minnesota  – the fourth summit she has held to promote the importance of exporting in her state.  Sen. Klobuchar, who chairs the Senate Commerce Subcommittee on Competitiveness, Innovation and Export Promotion, is working with the International Trade Administration (ITA) to encourage the expansion of trade among businesses in her state through summits that can inform the private sector about economic opportunities through international trade.  Minnesota manufacturers and service providers play a major role in trade around the globe, and their participation is expected to increase as the world’s economy grows.

The senator kicked off the Duluth Export Summit by championing the relationship between exports and job creation, and during the summit she facilitated and led a panel discussion on the opportunities of exporting with local experts from the Minnesota office of ITA’s U.S. Commercial Service and representatives from the Small Business Administration and the Minnesota Trade Office.  Thirty representatives from local businesses and other interested parties listened to the presentations, which were followed by a spirited question-and-answer session.

My client, Epicurean Cutting Surfaces, was the highlighted company.  The local Fox News channel interviewed Dave Benson, Epicurean’s chief financial officer, and I was asked to highlight and elaborate on the successes of the Featured U.S. Exporter (FUSE) service – which Epicurean is using effectively.  FUSE successfully identified qualified distribution partners for the company.

The success of the export summit is hopefully going to be replicated as an example of how the International Trade Administration, through its U.S. Commercial Service offices, collaborate with state congressional offices, exporting companies and local export resources to educate firms on the link between export growth and job creation.

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Green Build Road Show – Moving on to Denver

November 5, 2009

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Thomas Moore is Counselor for Commercial Affairs at the U.S. Embassy in Rome, Italy. Mr. Moore has previously served as the U.S. Commercial Service’s Deputy Director General, overseeing 2,000 employees in more than 80 countries.

After two successful days in Pittsburgh, the U.S. Commercial Service’s Green Build Road Show landed in an unseasonably sunny and warm Denver, Colorado, for another two-day program touting the unparalleled export opportunities in Europe’s green build and renewable energy sectors.

During the morning program, an audience member posed an interesting question:  Did we have any optimism that the United States would follow and match Europe’s current lead in the domestic deployment of these technologies?  As it turned out, the questioner had arrived late and missed most of the morning presentations.  Otherwise, he would have known that he was addressing a roomful of green entrepreneurs with strong confidence in an inevitable low-carbon future.

The Road Show had touched down in exactly the right place:  Denver is a hotbed of green technology development.  While the Road Show was conceived to educate U.S. companies on the European green build market, it has also been an eye-opening learning experience for the U.S. Commercial Service’s European officers and industry specialists.  We have found exactly what we were looking for:  A rich vein of new and innovative products and specialized expertise that should find an attentive market in Europe.

Pam Reichert, the State of Colorado’s Director of International Trade, opened the program with a description of Colorado’s strong commitment to what they have creatively coined the “New Energy Economy.”   “We’ve become a template for the rest of the nation for creating jobs, diversifying our energy portfolio, increasing energy security, and reducing our carbon footprint,” she said, citing the State’s success in attracting European investment in green technologies and in exporting nearly $2 billion last year to Europe.

The morning program featured presentations by two Colorado entrepreneurs who epitomize this success and should serve as encouraging role models – and mentors – for others to follow.

Dan Kigar, CEO of The Colorado Yurt Company, described his experiences in exporting 25 tent-like yurts for a major cultural exhibition in Paris.  Dan plans to conquer the world with his tent structures based upon the famous design of Genghis Khan, updated to the 21st century and pushing the envelope in use of sustainable technologies and recycled products.  He also cautioned exporters to beware of “bumps in the road” such as EU standards conformity issues, and he thanked the Commercial Service in France for helping him overcome these obstacles when they arose.

Mark Chen, Marketing Director for Abound Solar, discussed his company’s success selling thin-film solar photovoltaic modules in Germany, the world’s largest solar market with 50 percent annual growth in recent years.  Mark elicited laughs from the audience when he compared the bureaucratic paperwork required by Germany for a solar installation – two pages – versus the tabletop full of paper required by California.  But he did caution companies that they would face difficulties, albeit surmountable, in dealing with the European Union’s regulatory regimes for chemicals and electronic products.  (FYI:  The Commercial Service can help!)

The keynote speaker at lunch was David Hiller, Executive Director of the Colorado Renewable Energy Collaboratory, a joint venture of four premier public research universities in partnership with the private sector, and an important element in the infrastructure that has attracted foreign investment to Colorado.  David highlighted the strong public support and commitment among Coloradans for clean energy solutions.

Will this public commitment be replicated nationally, as one audience member wondered?  We had a room full of people betting their sweat and financial equity that it would!  On a personal note, it was wonderful to renew acquaintances with our top-notch U.S. Commercial Service colleagues in the Denver Export Assistance Center.  Kudos for a fantastic job organizing this event!

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Big Business at Big Iron

November 2, 2009

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Heather Ranck is Director of the Fargo, North Dakota US Export Assistance Center. She is also active on the Agribusiness Team, and in that capacity she promotes the export of US-made agricultural machinery throughout the world.

So Much to Do, So Little Time

I keep telling myself: sleep is overrated! Somewhere between the 1 a.m. airport pickup for my colleague arriving from China; and the 7:30 a.m. Ex-Im Bank finance meeting sleep tends to take a back seat to all the organizing, facilitating, entertaining and crisis management that is inherent in putting on any large event. The Big Iron Farm Machinery Show is the biggest agricultural machinery show in the Upper Midwest, and in 2007 we decided to make it a global event when the former Soviet countries began showing very high interest in our large scale farm machinery built in North Dakota. This, our third year, is once again packed with activity and opportunities for the 150+ foreign buyers who are descending on Fargo to learn about American large scale crop farming.

This year I focused my recruiting efforts on Africa, a new frontier for large scale farm equipment. Having lived in Mozambique and Congo, I wanted to scope out the prospects, so in May 2009 I took a 3-week trip to South Africa, Angola and Mozambique. After 144 meetings I learned a lot about the needs and opportunities for farm equipment in Africa. We had a delegation of 25 Africans at Big Iron this year, and I would like to see American technology helping increase food production in Africa.

The Big Iron International Visitors Program is a collaborative effort between the U.S. Commercial Service (the primary federal government export assistance agency) and the North Dakota Trade Office (a state of North Dakota trade promotion organization); and our combined team of 10 people coordinates very closely on all recruiting, events planning, logistics, interpreting, transportation and programming.

During the show, the hub of all the activity is the International Visitors Pavilion, for which the International Trade Administration’s Market Development Cooperator Program (MDCP) provided substantial funding for the meeting rooms this year. This is Grand Central Station for buyers and sellers, with meeting rooms, food and COFFEE!

We are always coming up with new elements to the program, and one of my new ideas this year was to hold an international soccer match. We had a beautiful, sunny day in Fargo and Fargo Parks let us use the best fields in Fargo. The game ended in a 4-4 tie, further ensuring international harmony.

I also have taken on the activity of ensuring adequate language assistance for buyers and sellers. I speak Portuguese, and therefore did quite a bit of interpreting for the Angolan delegation this year. We are fortunate to have 3 universities in the Fargo-Moorhead area, so we recruit student volunteers to facilitate business meetings throughout the week.

Big Iron 2009 was as exciting as ever this year with representation from 12 different countries, many of them new to Big Iron. It is thrilling to watch the years of effort leading to deals being negotiated before our eyes; and millions of dollars of US agricultural machinery being shipped all over the world.

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Globalization in the Midst of Recession-Prominent Business and Government Officials Headline Utah’s World Trade Week Conference

June 4, 2009

(This post was written on May 20, 2009. This post contains external links.  Please review our external linking policy.)

Dave Fiscus is the Director of the U.S. Foreign & Commercial Service‘s Utah Export Assistance Center, where he helps Utah companies compete and succeed in the international marketplace. He’s been with the International Trade Administration for ten years.

Greetings from Salt Lake City, home of the 2002 Winter Olympics and one of the fastest growing export markets in the country! I’m here at Zions Bank’s 8th Annual International Trade and Business Conference. Zions Bank, a corporate partner of the U.S. Foreign & Commercial Service (CS), has assembled a great cast of speakers to address this year’s topic, “Globalization in the Midst of Recession.” Zions Bank’s President and CEO, Scott Anderson, just provided opening remarks, in which the Zions Bank-CS partnership featured prominently (a great highlight for the CS and for the corporate partnership program!).

Over 800 members of Utah’s business community turned out for this half day event of presentations from officials representing all sectors of the economy from government to manufacturing to academia.

Rick Wade, Senior Advisor and Deputy Chief of Staff for the Department of Commerce just concluded his kick-off remarks. They were spot on with the theme of the conference and very well received by attendees. He pointed out that Secretary of Commerce Gary Locke said in his confirmation hearing that he is committed to “work every day to make the Commerce Department an engine for improving our competitiveness, encouraging innovation, and creating jobs.” Furthermore, he stated that partnerships are a critical component of this goal, and the Secretary and our team intend to strengthen our relationships with business, other federal agencies, and state and local organizations to position the United States as a global leader in exports and innovation.

Rick Wade at the International Trade and Business Conference, Salt Lake City, May 20, 2009

Rick Wade, Deputy Chief of Staff, Department of Commerce, speaks at the Zions Bank’s 8th Annual International Trade and Business Conference in Salt Lake City, Utah on May 20, 2009. (U.S. Department of Commerce photo)

The audience also just heard that last year, exports accounted for 13 percent of U.S. economic growth and supported millions of jobs in the United States. The U.S. exported an astounding $1.84 trillion worth of goods and services. To put this in historical context, exports accounted for nearly 10 percent of our gross domestic product five years earlier and 5 percent 40 years ago.

Governor Jon M. Huntsman, Jr., who was recently appointed as the next U.S. Ambassador to China by President Obama, just stopped by to accept Utah’s “Internationalist of the Year Award”. The Governor provided remarks, underscoring the theme of the day. A fitting send-off for a leader who made Utah’s global competitiveness a hallmark of his tenure at the helm of the state.

Well, we’re going into a break and my colleague Jeff Hamilton and I need to head over to the Commercial Service Utah table in the exhibitor information section of the conference alongside Trade Promotion Coordinating Committee partners Ex-Im Bank and SBA as well as various local trade multipliers. Russell Roberts, Professor of Economics at George Mason University and Tom Donohue, President and CEO of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce are slated to round out the day’s agenda.

Best from the American West!

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