Archive for the ‘Success Stories’ Category

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Foreign Investment Breathes New Life Into Ohio City

December 8, 2016

Guest blog post by Kristi Tanner, Automotive Senior Managing Director, JobsOhio

On October 7, Fuyao Glass America, a subsidiary of China-based Fuyao Group, celebrated the grand opening of its auto glass manufacturing facility in Moraine, a small industrial city just south of Dayton, Ohio. The company invested nearly $600 million to convert a shuttered General Motors assembly plant into the world’s largest auto glass fabrication facility – the largest capital investment east of the Mississippi by a Chinese company.

Many of us involved with the Fuyao project had the good fortune to tour the facility at its various stages of life. I recall seeing the plant before it closed when GM employed nearly 2,000 people producing the Chevrolet Trailblazer and GMC Envoy. Its transition from a behemoth building sitting empty during the recession to the world’s largest auto glass fabrication facility employing more than 2,000 workers today is how we know a long-term vision and collaborative approach are must-haves in any economic development strategy.

A coordinated effort and long-term vision to attract foreign direct investment is a must-have in any economic development strategy. Had local leadership not fought to keep the building from being demolished in the early days of the GM closure, we would never have been able to find a strong industrial developer willing to take a risk on the facility. Similarly, without the strong partnership and collaboration between SelectUSA, JobsOhio, the Dayton Development Coalition, Montgomery County and the city of Moraine, among others, we might never have been about to attract this company that is now giving hope to a city hit hard by job losses during the Great Recession.

The story behind Fuyao’s decision to redevelop the shuttered facility in Ohio is a textbook case illustrating how local, regional, state and national economic development organizations can work together to successfully attract foreign direct investment in the United States. Here’s how the story began.

Fuyao had expressed a desire to build a manufacturing plant in the U.S. to put the company’s automotive glass production closer to its North American customers. This led JobsOhio, the state’s private, non-profit economic development corporation, to attend the grand opening of Fuyao’s plant in Russia in September 2013. At the event, I presented Fuyao Group’s Chairman Cao Dewang with a personalized letter from Governor John Kasich inviting him to visit Ohio. The exchange led to an invitation to visit Fuyao’s corporate headquarters in Fuzhou, China, where I spent a day touring the operations and meeting with Chairman Cao other company leaders.

At around the same time, Cao was invited to attend the annual SelectUSA Investment Summit in Washington, D.C. He decided he would travel to the U.S. for the event to meet with – and ultimately visit – the finalist sites for Fuyao’s planned U.S. manufacturing facility. He liked what he saw in Moraine – a skilled and available workforce, an existing plant near a rail line and an interstate highway, and easy access to both suppliers and customers. He also recognized Ohio’s genuine desire to support Fuyao’s long-term success in the U.S.

Fuyao’s investment has breathed new life into the plant and the city of Moraine. Hundreds of people who had been out of work now have jobs, including some that worked in the plant for GM. Income tax revenue from the new plant already is allowing the city to make much-needed road improvements. The plant is stimulating additional growth in Dayton’s automotive industry. Local economic development leaders are eager to see if Fuyao attracts additional Chinese investment in the region.

This is how today, combined with a globally connected economy and a coordinated effort among economic development leaders at every level, a Chinese company is now helping make the American Dream come true. The proof is history-making results for communities, states and companies alike.

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El Paso plastic molding company grows international sales by $8 million, exports 85 percent of product

December 8, 2016

After years of working with the U.S. Commercial Service, a plastics molding company here has expanded its profit margin by more than $8 million and created more than 100 jobs through cross-border sales into Mexico.

Plastic Molding Technology, Inc., a manufacturer of injection-molded plastic components that produces more than 150 million parts per year, has worked with the U.S. Commercial Service in El Paso and New Mexico since 2011. During that time, Robert Queen, Director of U.S. Commercial Service-El Paso, worked with PMT to lock in several new customers across the border in Ciudad Juarez.

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Congressman Beto O’Rourke (center, left) and PMT owner and CEO Charles A. Sholtis joins PMT employees honor of the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Export Achievement Award.

This is something PMT CEO Charles A. Sholtis said directly attributed to their company’s success today.

“PMT regards Robert Queen and the El Paso Commercial Service as excellent partners for our company, as well as strong advocates for American manufacturing,” said Sholtis. “The organization is professional and supportive of our needs as a plastic components manufacturer on the US-Mexico border. From helping us link with new opportunities, to connecting us in B2B meetings, to recognizing our achievements as an exporter, we value our partnership and appreciate the support.”

Together with its El Paso operations, the U.S. Commercial Service is a federal agency under the U.S. Department of Commerce dedicated to helping small and medium-sized businesses successfully enter global markets.

Through the assistance provided by CS El Paso, Robert Queen said PMT has had its visibility enhanced within the borderplex community. Additionally, the U.S. Commercial Service’s relationships and resources provided for important connections through business-to-business matchmaking and trades shows as well as up-to-date market intelligence, trade analysis data and industry reports that lead to a number of trade leads.

“The work we have done with PMT has been much more than just finding them opportunities overseas for export,” Queen said. “We’ve also helped to strengthen their position locally through networking, consulting, and talking about projects taking place both in El Paso and Cuidad Juarez.”

The increased demand for PMT’s products has also had an effect on their workforce. With the increased need for plastic molding injection with businesses on both sides of the U.S.-Mexico border, PMT has increased their workforce to 100 employees. These employees are broken down into four shifts that keep the plant running 24 hours, seven days a week.

“For companies like PMT, it’s more than just exporting; companies along the U.S.-Mexico border are taking part in product sharing, which requires more back-and-forth coordination and consulting,” Queen said. “This can take multiple years to complete. Because we are very much engaged in the local manufacturing environment due to its exports across the border, it’s easy for the U.S. Commercial Service to stay on the cusp of the manufacturing supply chain locally.”

According to their website, for five decades, PMT has serviced a wide array of industries Including automotive, appliance, electrical, medical, agricultural, marine, and consumer products. Strategically located in El Paso, Queen said PMT is well-positioned to serve the maquiladora plants in Mexico, and continue to seek out other opportunities in the United States’ southern neighbor.

Interested in connecting with the U.S. Commercial Service? Visit us on the web to find an office near you.

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Celebrating Manufacturing Day in Pella, Iowa

October 12, 2016
Jason Andringa, President & CEO at Vermeer Corporation

Jason Andringa, President & CEO at Vermeer Corporation

Guest blog post by Jason Andringa, President & CEO at Vermeer Corporation

Throughout the year nearly 3,000 Vermeer team members work diligently to build impressive equipment that serves ten different markets. Our engineering team works hard to concept and design equipment; our manufacturing team machines, welds, paints and assembles the tough equipment we sell. Our support teams procure parts, integrate technology solutions, market the equipment and build relationships with customers and dealers on six continents. In order to experience ongoing success as a growing global company, we must continue to recruit, develop and build teams that can keep pace with our customer needs.

Numbers prove that a STEM-skilled workforce is essential to the future of manufacturing and our world. Every dollar spent in manufacturing adds $1.37 to the US economy, and every 100 jobs in a manufacturing facility create an additional 250 jobs in other sectors. Yet 80 percent of manufacturers report difficulty in finding skilled workers. Manufacturing clearly has an impact on the nation’s economy. So the skills gap we are facing in our industry has to be addressed in order to achieve a healthy workforce, and is sure to be reflective of the significant need throughout the nation.

Our annual Manufacturing Day event at the Vermeer headquarters in Pella, Iowa has proven to have some of the most positive, immediate results in shifting the manufacturing perception. We invite local middle and high school students inside our doors and break down the myth that manufacturing means a dirty job.

Through hands-on activities and plant tours, students get to dig into all the facets of manufacturing. Paint and weld simulators offer an opportunity to try it out. 3D printing, digital assembly and robotics activities show students manufacturing isn’t an outdated assembly line, but rather a smartly progressive field maximizing science and technology. Finance and marketing activities have students calculate exchange rates and see that manufacturing isn’t limited to a factory, but instead is connected around the globe.

We’re once again preparing to give students an up-close look at what manufacturing is all about. Why? Students, and their influencers, want it. An Iowa Governor’s STEM Advisory Council survey shows that 94 percent of Iowans think STEM education should be a priority in their local school districts. Our Manufacturing Day experience reflects that. Attendance jumped from 100 students to 700+ in just three years.

We also make it a point to survey the students before and after their visit, and are very motivated by the results: The percentage of students who felt they understood what manufacturing is, jumped from 57 percent before Manufacturing Day to 97 percent after, and those who want to work in manufacturing someday jumped from 34 percent to 69 percent. With the majority of students saying that personal experience directs them down a particular career path, we want Manufacturing Day to be one experience that launches them on a STEM journey toward manufacturing!

The future is bright for Vermeer, and when we open on our doors on October 14 for Manufacturing Day, we stand with pride to be a manufacturer and future employer to some of these students who will leave inspired to pursue a career in manufacturing.

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The Benjamin Joy Award: State and Commerce Collaboration

October 5, 2016

Arun Kumar is the Assistant Secretary for the International Trade Administration

Ambassador Charles H. Rivkin, Assistant Secretary of State for Economic and Business Affairs, and I had the great pleasure last week to present the first Benjamin Joy Award to the State-Commerce teams at U.S. Embassy Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

The Benjamin Joy Award was created by the International Trade Administration’s Global Markets unit and the State Department’s Economic Bureau (EB) to highlight and promote interagency collaboration and excellence in commercial diplomacy. The Award is named for Benjamin Joy, an early exemplar of U.S. commercial and economic diplomacy, who was appointed in 1792 by President George Washington as the first American Consul and Commercial Agent to India.

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Kumar with the winners of the Benjamin Joy Award

There were 43 nominations from 34 different countries, a testament to robust State Commerce collaboration – and to the premium our people put on working together to assist American businesses. From our very first meeting, Ambassador Rivkin and I have shared the conviction that closer State and Commerce collaboration can create even greater success in advancing our country’s commercial and economic interests. Following the ceremony, we also signed a memorandum to further expand the interagency cooperation under the U.S. & Foreign Commercial Service-State Partner Post Program.

The joint State-Commerce team in Ethiopia was led by Ambassador Patricia Haslach, and made up of Tanya Cole, Teddy Tefera and Nnaji Campbell from Commerce and Peter Vrooman and Gaia Self from State. The team worked tirelessly over 19 months, through many ups and downs, to ensure a level playing field for a U.S. company, Gates Air in a government tender to upgrade and digitalize Ethiopia’s television infrastructure.

The runners-up were teams from Embassy New Delhi and Embassy Jakarta. Those teams too exemplified outstanding State-Commerce collaboration – which is all the more important to increase America’s influence in today’s increasingly complex and uncertain world,  when competition overseas is stiffer and does not always play by the same rules.

Congratulations to the winners!

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The GlobalTarget Program: The Proof is in the Partnerships

September 6, 2016

Susan Whitney is Director of the U.S. Commercial Service Office in Cleveland, Ohio.This post contains external links. Please review our external linking policy

If you often have the feeling that you or your company is figuring out exporting entirely on your own, I’m going to let you in on a little-known fact: a collection of partners are waiting to help your business succeed overseas. You just have to find them.

In Northeast Ohio, we have gathered this group of peers, experts, and service providers together in a nine-month export training program called GlobalTarget. The program is for companies between $2 million and $50 million in sales who are poised to take the next step of growing their business internationally.

GlobalTarget is different from most other export training programs because of how it capitalizes on each partner’s strength so they can delivery value to the participant. The program unleashes a network of the region’s best and most experienced international business professionals so each GlobalTarget participant can grow overseas – that’s what makes partnerships so powerful.

Over ten years ago, I helped form Global Target around the idea that one company, stakeholder group, or service provider doesn’t have all the answers when it comes to international growth. Therefore, GlobalTarget strives to focus these partners toward a singular goal: help Northeast Ohio companies grow in international markets.

Here’s a look at how the partners come together to make GlobalTarget a success:

  • Federal (U.S. Commercial Service) – By offering participants export counseling and their Gold Key matchmaking service, GlobalTarget companies can connect to a worldwide network of trade professionals in over 70 countries.  The Gold Key matchmaking service allows the participants to implement what they have learned and to turn training into sales.
  • State (Ohio Development Services Agency) – By offering export counseling and grant funds to help cover a participating company’s cost, more firms are able to participate in GlobalTarget.
  • Academia (Cleveland State University) – Through presentations from industry experts and faculty, participants learn the ins and outs of exporting from every angle. Cleveland State students also research international markets and create a report for each participant.
  • Private sector (FedEx) – By covering the cost of several international offerings from the U.S. Commercial Service, GlobalTarget participants are able to customize the program’s services to fit their needs.
  • Ohio’s exporting community – By matching up each GlobalTarget participant with an experienced exporter, each company learns from their mentor’s experience to shorten their learning curve.

One alumnus of GlobalTarget said the most valuable part of the program is being matched up with an “exporting mentor”. Mentors are another Ohio company with deep experience taking their business global. Here’s what Jeff Sponseller, VP of Sales for Miller Weldmaster, said about their mentorship experience:

“When you to go through the day to day of figuring out exporting on your own, at times you catch yourself saying ‘this is a lot harder than it should be’. Through GlobalTarget, we realized exporters around the region have many of the same questions – regardless of their industry.

“We got to ask other exporters ‘How to you do handle this or that situation?’, which positioned our company to benefit from our mentor’s experience.”

The mentorship aspect of the GlobalTarget adds value for two reasons. First, mentoring builds a sense of community among the region’s exporters – it allows for positive experiences like Miller Weldmaster’s. Second, engaging experienced exporters as mentors builds on the central idea of what makes GlobalTarget so successful – capitalizing on each partner’s strength to deliver maximum value to Ohio companies.

Finally, what happens to companies that go through GlobalTarget? What are the results?

On average, over 70 percent of GlobalTarget alumni that have used the Commercial Service Gold Key matchmaking service have success in a foreign market within their first year of completing the program. In the case of Miller Weldmaster, they expanded into several new markets through the Commercial Service Gold Key matchmaking service including Chile, Russia, and Korea, with plans to use the Gold Key Matchmaking service in other countries in the coming months.

If you are a Northeast Ohio company weighing whether you should join this year’s GlobalTarget group, the proof of the program’s success is in the partnerships. GlobalTarget utilizes the unique strengths of our area’s exporting experts who have a vested interest in your success.

Visit the GlobalTarget website to learn more about the program.

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Cutting-Edge Tech at Hannover Messe Equals Win-Win for U.S. Small Business and the Planet

August 24, 2016

Joshua Kaplan is an International Trade Specialist at the U.S. Commercial Service Office in Richmond, Virginia.

One important aspect about U.S. companies going global is that they aren’t just looking for profits. In my work, I’ve seen broad commitment from global companies to make positive impact in the markets in which they sell. That definitely adds a sense of reward for me; as I help companies grow through global sales, I see these companies making a positive impact in the world.

Among the 400-plus exhibitors that joined the U.S. Partner Country delegation at Hannover Messe in April was a company called Filtroil, a small business in my city of Richmond, Virginia. Filtroil produces advanced filtration systems for industrial fluids, extending the life of machinery and reducing the amount of potentially harmful waste produced by manufacturers.

Filtration systems can help industrial companies increase productivity and decrease cost, and minimize environmental impact. That’s a major benefit for manufacturers, and the attendees at Hannover Messe took notice of Filtroil’s solutions.  Even before the show began, our Commercial Service team gathered more than 20 prospective leads for the company, and set up meetings between Filtroil CEO Jeremy Leahman and several qualified prospective buyers.

During the week of the show, Jeremy often had a line at his booth, as the thousands of Hannover Messe attendees passed through our U.S. Pavilions and saw innovative U.S. companies like Filtroil.

Just six weeks after the show, Filtroil has already secured enough new global business that the firm has hired additional staff to capitalize on these new opportunities.

That’s an excellent result from a trade show and a great benefit for a small company. It’s also great news for the environment, because both developed and developing economies are looking to improve productivity to meet increased global demand, and innovative products like Filtroil’s will help them do that without a commensurate increase in environmental impact.

It’s one small example of what I believe to be a unique trait of U.S. companies – we don’t just send products to a market and leave with the profits. American companies create solutions that help the world’s producers be more efficient and environmentally-friendly. I’m glad that companies like Filtroil joined our Hannover Messe delegation to show the world how U.S. innovation keeps the world green.

For any U.S. company looking to make a global impact, I encourage you to contact your nearest Commercial Service office and let us help you find your next international market.

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First Native American organization that received President’s “E” Award has been honored in Albuquerque

August 3, 2016

Stephen Collier is a Communications Specialist for the U.S. Commercial Service, Southwest Network

An acknowledgement of true achievement took place July 26 at the Indian Pueblo Cultural Center: a celebration in honor of the first Native American organization to win the President’s “E” Award for Export Services.

The American Indian Alaska Native Tourism Association was recognized in May by Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker along with 122 other companies and organizations across the United States that have contributed to increased exports in their respective industries nationwide.

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Robert Queen, Director of US Commercial Service-Santa Fe (left), poses with members of the American Indian Alaska Native Tourism Association and nearby Native American organizations

In attendance at the event were representatives from the offices of Senator Tom Udall (D-NM) and Congresswoman Michelle Lujan Grisham (D-NM). Rep. Grisham represents the New Mexico’s 1st Congressional District, which includes the Albuquerque area. Representatives from several Pueblo nations were also on hand, as was Robert Queen, Director of the U.S. Commercial Service’s Santa Fe office.

In his remarks, Queen, who provides export guidance and support to New Mexico businesses, spoke about the importance of organizations like AIANTA in reaching several audiences and tribes across the nation.

“Most of the projects we work on in the U.S. are manufacturing based,” he said. “Companies manufacture a product, put it in a package, and ship it across the world. But tourism is also an export. It might now show up in the stats, but we know that someone from Germany or a family from Japan come to the U.S., they rent a car, check into a hotel, go to dinner, go to an event and they spend an enormous amount of money. And that’s why we love organizations like AIANTA. We are able to connect with AIANTA directly and work with them on trade shows and at the same time, reach foreign customers. For us, it’s a great partnership.”

In fact, tourism within the Native American community continues to rise. According to the Department of Commerce, in 2014, America had 35 million visitors to its shores, including a record 1.65 million to Native American communities. Those visitors and tourists also spent approximately $7 billion, infusing increased revenues into unique locations like these communities.

And the future projections aren’t expected to change, with a forecasted 30 percent increase in overseas visitors to tribal lands, with visitors spending an approximate $9.5 billion annually. .

Speaking on behalf of Sen. Udall was Joshua Sanchez, a field representative for the senator’s office. While the senator could not be in attendance, Sanchez relayed Sen. Udall’s continued commitment to organizations like AIANTA that are helping to increase awareness of Native American culture to international visitors.

Sherry Rupert, President of the Board of Directors for AIANTA, said the organization takes pride in their international outreach efforts that create opportunities for America’s tribes.

“Overseas travelers are visiting ‘Indian Country’ more than ever before, and international travelers are looking for both something unique and an experience,” she said. “Travelers visiting our tribes have increased dramatically, growing more than 50 percent from 1 million in 2007 to 2014. These are the travelers all of the tourism industry is trying to grab to bring to their destinations. It’s a great opportunity for Indiana Country. AIANTA continues to work to capitalize on this opportunity to set up tribes to compete in the international market. Even though we’ve been here for thousands of years, we are the new and unique experience these visitors are looking for.”

To learn more about the U.S. Commercial Service in New Mexico, visit http://www.export.gov.