Posts Tagged ‘national small business week’

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Our Global City Celebrates Global Business

May 12, 2014

World Trade Week New York City is May 12 through 23, 2014This post contains external links. Please review our external linking policy.

KL Fredericks and David Roman are International Trade Specialists at the Harlem Export Assistance Center in New York.

Only in New York…

That’s the slogan so commonly used to describe our one-of-a-kind city. We New Yorkers covet all the wonderful things about our town that make it what it is, from our accents to our sports.

We also love the quality goods and services that come from our entrepreneurs, thought leaders, and businesspeople. But this week, during World Trade Week NYC, we want to make sure that these products aren’t found only in New York.

This week, all of us at the U.S. Commercial Service in New York and throughout the region are excited to partner with the state, the city, local companies, and many business organizations to help get more of our businesses competing in the global marketplace.

Our network of more than 40 organizations throughout the region will host a number of events, workshops, panels, and information sessions to connect local businesses with the best opportunities to compete overseas and help share the best practices for finding success in global markets.

From understanding copyright strategies, to working with startups in Africa, to competing in Mexico, to evaluating free trade agreements, the events going on this week and throughout the month will provide a comprehensive learning experience for any business that wants to expand its exports.

Of course it’s fitting that World Trade Week NYC coincides with Small Business Week, and we’ll be showing New York’s small businesses how important it is to compete in the global marketplace.

World Trade Week is officially only one week here in NYC, but this city is a global city 52 weeks a year! Our network of trade specialists downtown, in Harlem, on Long Island and throughout the region are here to help any company that’s ready to get started exporting. We hope we’ll see many of you at events throughout the week, and we hope to see many of your businesses finding more success overseas.

Happy World Trade Week!

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How a Career Change Led to a Successful Export Business in Africa

June 21, 2013

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

Doug Barry is a Senior International Trade Specialist in the International Trade Administration’s Global Knowledge Center.

HERO Florida President Leslie Smith (right) stands in a gold mine in Ghana with his son, HERO Vice President Carlton Smith.

HERO Florida President Leslie Smith (right) stands in a gold mine in Ghana with his son, HERO Vice President Carlton Smith.

Perpetually suntanned and jovial, Leslie Smith operated a successful commercial landscaping business for several decades.

Then one day, he read an item in a local newsletter that caught his fancy. It was about exporting and how to do it.

Four years later, he was in Washington, DC to accept a presidential award for excellence in exporting. Leslie and his company, HERO Florida, export heavy machinery and spare parts to multiple markets in Africa, South America and Central America.

Here are some excerpts from a discussion I had with Leslie while he was in Washington:

Barry: How did you get started in exporting?

Smith: My son and I went to Export 101 put on by the Jacksonville, Fla. Port; the Chamber of Commerce; and the Department of Commerce.

We took the knowledge from the course there and applied it to mining equipment, which is what we were interested in and believed we could make a business out of. So we went to Las Vegas to the big mining show that happens every four years.

We decided to have a reception and invited all the commercial specialists from our embassies who were there with delegates from their countries. The delegates were buyers representing mining companies from around the world. And to our surprise 200 or 300 showed up, so it was really nice. And so we made a deal with an outfit there in Ghana and sold some equipment. And so that’s how we got started in the African market.

Barry: Why did you decide to go to the export course in the first place? You had a good business.

Smith: I don’t know. I just thought it was interesting. I read it in a business journal and I called my son into the office. “Carlton, this course on exporting, it looks interesting.” I always wanted to do something like that. I just thought it would be an opportunity to travel and spend time with my son who is also my business partner.

Barry: How many countries are you in now?

Smith: We’re in a bunch. I think probably 10, including Ghana, Nigeria on the west side, and then lots of South Africa – Botswana, Zambia, Tanzania and Namibia. Gosh, lots in that region.

Barry: Were you concerned about the risks of doing business in some parts of Africa?

Smith: Yeah, we really were. When we started we could do nothing more than cash and carry. People are not going to be able to open letters of credit and so forth, so it has to be cash and carry. And a lot of times they just don’t have the cash. So as things have progressed we’ve got help from the Export-Import Bank of the U.S., and we’re able to finance companies once they’re checked out through Ex-Im. So now we’re able to give companies terms.

Barry: In addition to Ex-Im Bank, did you get help from other government agencies and programs?

Smith: The Export Assistance Center of the U.S. Department of Commerce and the state of Florida through Enterprise Florida, those guys are great. I mean, they’re constantly – constantly bringing people to our office and trying to marry us with other people and inviting us to go on trade missions, and really doing their job. And if you’ve got a question, that’s where the support from the Commerce Department really comes in, because you can ask that question. And I would advise anyone that decides to get into the exporting business to use those resources because that’s what they’re there for.

Barry: So one aspect of the help you received was the International Buyer Program show in Las Vegas?

Smith: It’s the Mine Expo that only happens every four years. It’s the biggest in the world. The U.S. Commercial Service brings buyer delegations from many different countries that have mining equipment needs. In 2008, they had brought delegations from – I mean, you name the country; they were there. So it was fortunate for us.

Barry: What advice do you have for companies that aren’t exporting now?

Smith: It’s the American dream. It’s the entrepreneurial spirit. You go out there and you get it. I’ve always been in my own business, so it’s a lot of fun. And then I think my son thinks the same way, and his friends. If you want to travel and you want to do something exciting –I would take as many classes and talk to as many people like me as I could before I just jumped off the cliff. Otherwise, you could spend a lot of money and not go anywhere.

You need to do your homework. You need to use all the resources that the Commerce Department has to offer, because they have a lot. A lot. And maybe start out slow and go on some of these (Commerce Department or state government) trade missions and do it like that. And number one, have a good product—one that sells.

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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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May is World Trade Month

May 1, 2012

Cory Churches is a Communications Outreach Specialist in the Office of Public Affairs at the International Trade Administration.

May is the harbinger of Spring (here in the Northern Hemisphere) but it’s also what I like to call the “month of weeks”. In addition to being Bike Month (as proclaimed by the League of American Bicyclists) it is also a celebration of many of the things we here at the International Trade Administration hold near and dear to our hearts.

Bike messengers in Hannover, Germany (Photo T.MoE via Flickr)

Bike messengers in Hannover, Germany (Photo T.MoE via Flickr)

In May we celebrate National Travel and Tourism Week (May 5-13), National Small Business Week (May 14-20), and last but certainly not least World Trade Week (May 21-26). All month we will be highlighting programs, industries, and milestones from across the organization that fit into these three (and sometimes all) themes.

This year marks the 50th anniversary of the E-Awards, created to “afford suitable recognition to persons, firms, or organizations which contribute significantly in the effort to increase United States exports.”

The U.S.-Colombia Trade Promotion Agreement enters into force on May 15 and we will have information about the economic impact of the agreement and opportunities for key industries as a result of the provisions of the agreement.

The annual TradeWinds Forum takes place May 14-22 and we will be highlighting stories from Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand, and Vietnam where hundreds of companies will be networking with government and industry leaders to find connections, partners, and ultimately sales in new markets.

Speaking of partners, the Market Development Cooperator Program (or MDCP) will highlight one of their many successes with a profile of the Independent Film and Television Alliance. IFTA became a partner in 2010 with the goal of “enhancing the global competitiveness of its industry and increase the exports of U.S. independent motion picture exports by an creating American Pavilion at the Hong Kong International Film and Television Market.” We will hear of their ultimate success and track their progress.

Keep an eye out for upcoming stories and follow us on Twitter @TradeGov.

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