Posts Tagged ‘Phoenix’

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From Arizona to India

April 24, 2011
 

Judy Reinke is the U.S. and Foreign Commercial Service’s Senior Commercial Officer in India.

Participants of U.S. Commercial Service seminar on business opportunities in India.

Participants of U.S. Commercial Service seminar on business opportunities in India.

Greetings from the Valley of the Sun – Phoenix, Arizona! This is Judy Reinke again, checking in from the first stop of my four-city road show. Phoenix has been a whirlwind of activity for me, with hardly any time to catch up on jet lag from my trip direct from New Delhi, India. But I don’t mind, since I’ve met so many great U.S. companies in my two days here. The highlight of this visit was a two-hour seminar with business representatives who have worked with the US Export Assistance Center – some 50 participants with an active interest in entering (or expanding in) the Indian market. My overview of the economy and business opportunities seemed to stimulate a lot of interest, based on the animated Q&A session, and the line of folks hanging around afterwards with specific questions for me. I’m really sure I’m going to see a lot of these Arizona businesses in India before too long!

One way these Arizona firms may come to explore the India market is through a trade mission being planned by the Arizona Technology Council in October. This mission will give participating firms the chance to visit three major cities in India, providing ample opportunities for briefings, site visits and networking. My office has committed to provide our signature Gold Key service of customized appointments to any participating firm, with the goal of helping the company find the perfect local representative or future partner to help get started in India.

I was also was honored to join several institutions of higher education at a luncheon meeting graciously hosted by Arizona State University. With over 100 thousand students studying in the U.S., India is the leading country of origin for foreign students studying here. And, with 71% of its population under the age of 34, India is an important country for student recruiters. My office is excited to be planning an Education Trade Mission in October of this year, and we discussed this program in detail. Even though recruitment has just begun, I understand 25 U.S. colleges and universities have already signed up to join us for the mission, including a series of student fairs and appointments to help introduce the participating American educational institutions to students in three cities. I am pretty sure we’ll have one or more schools from Arizona along to showcase their great programs!

I’m really glad I had a chance to visit Arizona and get to know so many exciting companies. From the firm that offers cutting-edge protective gear to the young company creating solutions for enhancing thin film applications to a wide range of other innovative companies, Arizona has a lot to offer India, and I’m sure my office will be able to help them find their place in one of the fastest growing economies in the world.

Next stop – Houston, Texas, for the ACCESS 2011 Conference.  More later!

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Spreading the Word About India in the American Southwest

April 21, 2011
 

Judy Reinke is the U.S. and Foreign Commercial Service’s Senior Commercial Officer in India.

Hi, it’s me again, Judy Reinke from the Commercial Service (CS) office in New Delhi, and I’m finally on the ground in the U.S. after a very long flight.  It’s great to be home!  After 15 hours on a plane, it was a joy to sstretch my legs and see a gorgeous sunrise in Newark, New Jersey, but my trip wasn’t done yet.  Another 5 hours later, and I was in the beautiful city of Phoenix, Arizona, the first stop on a two-week ”outreach” trip designed to help U.S. companies learn about the India market and encourage more U.S. firms to export.  But there was no time for sleep, since the day had just begun in Arizona.

Arizona State University's Skysong Center

Arizona State University's Skysong Center

Stopping by the offices of the Phoenix U.S. Export Assistance Center located at the Arizona State University’s distinctive SkySong Center, I had the chance to discuss export opportunities with a booming franchise business that has a significant overseas presence, but which has not yet entered India.  The business director is a savvy fellow who knows the market conditions he needs to succeed, and he understands that India still presents some big challenges in the retail sector.  India’s retail sector consists largely of small mom-and-pop retailers stores, and the distribution channels are not fully developed; however, this franchiser wants to keep a close eye on pending reforms in this sector and will work with my office to jump in when the timing is right.  In fact, he’s been successful in finding master franchisers in other markets with the help of the Commercial Service, and I’m confident my office can help him in the same way.  I also chatted with an architectural services firm ready to explore exporting for the first time.  Services exports are a major U.S. competitive strength, and I see good opportunities for architecture and design firms in India, where a $1 trillion is expected to be invested in infrastructure over the next 5 years. One of the directors of the company is quite knowledgeable about India, and I can see how India might well be a place where this well-established, medium-sized firm could get started as a service exporter.  Nonetheless, during the course of our conversation, which included my colleague from the Arizona USEAC, Anna Flaaten, we discussed other options closer to home, like Canada or Central America, which could provide an excellent platform to start exporting.  Anna provides great counseling insights – any U.S. company unsure about how (or where) to start exporting should seek out  the advice of people like Anna and other Trade Specialists at the 100 or so USEACs across America.

With only 1% of U.S. companies currently exporting and, of those, 58% only exporting to one market (likely Canada or Mexico, since they’re so close), Anna and her colleagues have a lot of work on their hands reaching out to lots of businesses which really should give exporting a try.  During my short two week “road show”, I hope I can give my U.S.-based colleagues a hand spreading the word about exporting, since it presents such a great opportunity to keep American strong.  If your firm isn’t an exporter, I hope you will become one.  By exporting a product to a new market, your company learns what your global competitors are up to in their home markets; you get great feedback from foreign customers on how your product stacks up or could be modified to gain more traction in their market; and you become better able to compete back home as you use this feedback to improve and enhance your product for the future.

This has been a long day for me.  I’ll sign off now, since tomorrow is another big day here in Phoenix for counseling U.S. firms about India.  And, who knows… maybe I’ll be meeting with you!

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Green Build Wrap: The Commercial Service Steps Up

November 16, 2009

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

Daniel Harris has been a Foreign Service Officer for over 25 years serving at posts in Europe, South America, Africa, and Washington, DC, most recently as Deputy Assistant Secretary for International Operations, U.S. Commercial Service.  He currently serves as the chief of the Commercial Section and the senior representative of the U.S. Department of Commerce in the U.S. Mission to France.

At the end of two weeks of living and breathing “Green,” our Commercial Service travelers feel exhausted but happy.  The adrenaline high that comes from pushing into new markets and meeting many innovative companies overcomes the fatigue.  We also feel proud of our organization.  This whole experiment – the Green Build Road Show, our partnerships with the private sector and our participation in the Green Build Show in Phoenix — was driven by the “field” – that is, the Commercial Service people overseas and in the national offices.  Several of us in Europe grasped that Green Build was a growth opportunity and started developing the notion of a Road Show.  Our colleagues in the United States jumped on board and our folks in Headquarters supported us.  Then we went to the private sector to find marketing partners and their positive response confirmed we were on to something.

What’s so cool is that we brought this together in a very 21st Century style – we coalesced around the power of an idea and we pieced the rest together as we went along.  Dozens, maybe hundreds, of people collaborated across nine time zones, with no guarantees of success or promises of particular reward.  The Commercial Service DNA seems to include genes for both entrepreneurship and altruism.  

We’ve learned a lot from thinkers at Carnegie Mellon, the National Renewable Energy Lab, the Green Build Council – and of course from the companies we met.  Our challenge is helping them succeed in overseas markets, and for that we can draw on years of experience.  It feels really good when you offer  ideas and see lights flashing in an entrepreneur’s eyes.  On Wednesday, I told a start up that they were selling themselves short – that we could help them take a much more ambitious approach to the European market, despite their limited resources.  After talking to a couple of my colleagues, they circled back to tell me they wanted to go for it! 

Al Gore and Sheryl Crowe energized several thousand Green Build participants on Wednesday night – giving us a sense that, through supporting American innovation, we’re making our own contribution to saving the planet. 

All of us sense that the Road Show is just the beginning. This sector is still ramping up – and we want to be players.  So, where do we go from here?  Already we have a couple of big events on the horizon – the Bright Green Pavilion at the COP 15 in Copenhagen and the Green Industries Trade Mission we’re doing with FedEx in April.  Beyond that, we want to expand and deepen our partnerships with top research institutions, with our private sector partners and with associations.  For the rest, we’ll move with the needs of American companies as this exciting sector continues to unfold.

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The Green Wave Reaches Phoenix, as the Greenbuild Expo Opens

November 16, 2009

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

Keith Curtis is a senior Foreign Service Officer currently based in the U.S. Commercial Service’s Office of International Operations.  He is the Commercial Service’s senior advisor on energy efficiency and renewable energy.

Reaching the Green Goal, the Commercial Service’s Greenbuild Road Show has arrived at its final destination:  the Greenbuild Conference and Expo, the country’s largest sustainable building event based in Phoenix this year.  This wildly popular event is hosting 1,800 exhibitors and expected to attract upwards of 25,000 of visitors over the next three days.  At its pre-show program, delegations from 90 countries came to International Day, creating the “buzz heard ‘round the world” about Green Buildings.  CS Abu Dhabi Senior Commercial Officer Laurie Farris brought a delegation of 95 buyers and planners ready to build green in the Middle East, which was the largest group among the dozens of countries present. 

As part of the educational program designed for the hundreds of international buyers, Paris SCO Dan Harris moderated a panel on retrofitting buildings to lower their carbon footprint and enhance their green credentials.  Here we are now down to the core of the core of the immediate problem.  From the speakers on this panel we learned an incredible amount:  40 per cent of Green House Gas (GHG) comes from buildings; 70% of our electricity is used in buildings; and, the low hanging fruit of GHG mitigation can come from increasing efficiency in buildings –the kicker is that these reductions come at cost savings, so whether you believe in climate change or not, it makes sense.  Dan’s panel pointed out the next step; this problem is not going to be solved by new buildings because the turnover takes too long.  Most of our buildings are “old” and will remain that way for a while.  But we can put new “skins“ on buildings, and we can “green” existing buildings, like the Clinton Climate Initiative is doing with the Empire State Building.  And, the most important thing we learned – the final point beyond the point – is that in the end it comes around to the people in the buildings, because green buildings have to be used right or they are no good.  Green buildings are performing way below expectations, it turns out, because of improper use.  So monitoring becomes key, as are systems that tell you how the building is performing in actual use, and what you need to correct.  Now, here at the Greenbuild Expo, it seems we are arriving at the set of solutions needed to really address climate change. 

And the buzz is building and building.  We started the day at the office of the U.S. Export Assistance Center in Scottsdale which has a growing set of export-ready clients – our European SCOs reached out to these Phoenix-area companies from a wide range industries who are interested in the European markets;  some of these folks later joined us at the Greenbuild show to check out the excitement.  As the International Day seminars came to a close and the Show officially opened in the evening, gleaming with beautiful carpets and a feast of food and drink, we started meeting a host of U.S. firms who hold the solutions to mitigating climate change and enhancing energy efficiency.  These are the companies we want to help introduce to international markets.  Now we look forward to a whirlwind of buzz as we head toward the penultimate events of the tour.

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