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SEDC: Taking a Regional Approach to Promoting FDI

December 27, 2016

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

Guest blog post by Gene Stinson, President, Southern Economic Development Council

As the membership association for more than 1,000 economic development professionals across 17 southern states, the Southern Economic Development Council (SEDC) enthusiastically aids its members seeking foreign direct investment (FDI) in their communities. SEDC members include statewide, city, town and county economic development organizations (EDOs) and agencies, representing the vast diversity in geography, transportation infrastructure, workforce assets, municipal incentives and public-private partnerships available in the southern United States.

Building awareness of FDI is central to SEDC’s mission to provide members with the information and resources that help them increase economic development in their communities. However, while many members have succeeded in attracting FDI, others have not had access to the tools and information needed to draw investment. This year, we worked hard on changing that – here’s how.

In April, SEDC launched AmericanSouth.net, an initiative to highlight the many benefits of the region to international investors. The program has a twofold objective: to demonstrate “best FDI attraction practices” to all SEDC members; and to offer direct opportunities for members to develop leads that can bring FDI to their areas.

Today, in concert with our regular newsletter, SEDC News, we provide articles, directions to resources, and other information through AmericanSouth.net. We also plan to take advantage of our location in Atlanta – where several international chambers of commerce and foreign consulates have offices – by hosting an International Site Location Advisors Summit to help members build relationships with these organizations and increase contacts with FDI site location influencers.

Moving forward, we will continue building out the capability of AmericanSouth.net not only to position the region as a top destination for FDI but also to provide an additional way for international companies get in touch with our member EDOs. To help advance the initiative, SEDC is forming an advisory board of international investment specialists from EDOs, SelectUSA, the Organization for International Investment (OFII), site location consulting firms, and more. The board will guide SEDC’s FDI programing and develop educational content for its members.

Throughout our development, SelectUSA has been a valuable partner, particularly in helping us prepare for our first venture to Hannover Messe 2016, the world’s largest industrial technology trade show. Conference calls, connections to international investors, and follow-up personal calls – organized by SelectUSA – maximized our exposure in the Investment Pavilion. AmericanSouth.net made its debut at the pavilion and drew several hundred international business and industry representatives to our booth.   Next year, SEDC will again participate in the SelectUSA Investment Summit in June and join the U.S. delegation to Hannover Messe in April. We are also exploring new opportunities, including the possibility of organizing an AmericanSouth road show with SelectUSA.

SEDC’s development of AmericanSouth.net and our exciting ambitions for 2017 mark a new high point in our association’s efforts on behalf of its members. FDI is an under-explored frontier for many communities and a resource many others can expand upon. We are excited about continuing to position the American South as the global destination of choice for business.

 To learn more about SEDC, please visit www.sedc.org and follow @SEDCouncil on Twitter.  

 

 

 

 

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Not Seeing Us at CES 2017 Equals $0 of International Money

December 22, 2016

Derrick Small is a Communication Specialist for the International Trade Administration

No long reading, we’ll do you a favor and state the list of reasons upfront.

We are bringing buyers.

Businesses have gone global – 95 percent of the world’s consumers are outside of the United States. Our country specialist and industry representatives are available at the Consumer Electronics Show to help increase your company’s market entry opportunities.

Now in its 50th year, CES has reached a momentous milestone. To celebrate we are bringing over 375 professionals from over 35 countries. In addition to buyers, take a look at our other offerings at CES:

Are those not services worthy of praise?

Thomas Jefferson said “the care of human life and happiness, and not their destruction, is the first and only object of good government.”

People are at least 80 percent likely to recommend our services, and we help establish at least 1.54 jobs per company we assist. We want to help make your business profitable in the global terrain. We’ve put numbers on the board. We are like ghost writers for celebrities. One more – I promise – we are the cool tips and tricks your coworkers hold secret so he/she may look better at performing the job than you. We even the playing field.

“We’ve found the International Trade Administration (U.S. Commercial Service) team a great help for our business over the last 2 years. They’ve been very helpful providing direct introductions to customers and suppliers, and put on a fantastic event (Discover Global Markets – Pacific Rim) which saw us sign up the largest retail chain in South Korea as a customer, and get some direct links with Rakuten resellers in Japan,” said Adam Brown, Founder of Protempo. “On top of that, they’ve provided a ready-made platform of assistance for our upcoming move to California, which we’re ready to utilize to kick-start 2017!”

With privacy concerns and a huge respect for our clients we rarely get to publicize our effort’s yield. In fact, bragging is discouraged. You’d quicker hear an official say “we should never pat ourselves on the back for a job well-done because it’s our duty, let the clients speak for us.” Well, with the exception of a few, most companies do not want you to know about the U.S. Commercial Service’s value to your business and on improving your competitive position.

“U.S. Commercial Service has provided us valuable feedback and guidance on our international expansion strategies. The information given by the team at CES was very informative and actionable, which has saved us a significant amount of time and cost in our business research,” said Angela Pan, Founder and CEO of Ashley Chloe Inc. “In addition, the team at CES has provided us various opportunities for international publicity. As a start-up, we greatly appreciated the services provided by CES which has helped jump start our international business.”

Your competitor’s edge over you is us.

  • Want to enter a new market? We are there (obviously we’re not everywhere, but 108 domestic offices and 75 countries is pretty good right?)
  • What market is your competitor in? Do you even know if your competitor is exporting?
  • How many markets are you in? (FYI, if you say none, you are losing the race.)
  • Have you even looked at our basic guide to exporting? (You Should)

Information on some of our services at CES 2017:

How the B2B Matchmaking Program Works?

  1. When you register, your company profile will be added to the CES 2017 Industry Focused Promotion (IFP) trade lead platform.
  2. S. Embassy & Consulate Information Technology Commercial Specialists worldwide will promote this site to qualified potential buyers in their respective markets.
  3. Once a buyer has requested a meeting with your company, the U.S. Commercial Service will evaluate and approve the request.
  4. After the buyer’s request is approved, you will receive a confirmation and information on the international buyer.

Global Markets Insight Program – Direct Feedback

The International Trade Administration’s International Buyer Program partners with CTA to recruit foreign buyers and agents to CES 2017. Through the U.S. Commercial Service’s GMIP or scheduled one-on-one sessions, you’ll have the unique opportunity to present your products and services to our international industry specialists from 20+ U.S. Embassies & Consulates who will provide valuable feedback on:

  • Individual market opportunities and challenges related to the Information Communication Technology (ICT) sectors
  • Market potential for your products & services
  • Finding an appropriate overseas partner
  • Best practices on exporting

International Matchmaking Reception

The reception will connect U.S. companies and their product or service table-top displays with hundreds of foreign buyers in a unique setting beyond the show floor. This is the perfect opportunity for expanding your business into new global markets.

By exhibiting, you will be able to:

  • Meet and prospect new customers
  • Network with foreign buyers and industry professionals
  • Entertain new contacts/partners/clients at a hospitable and professional event.

Foreign Buyers Representing the Following Countries:

Argentina, Brazil, Belgium, Bolivia, Canada, China, Colombia, Czech Republic, Denmark, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Egypt, France, Finland, Hungary, India, Israel, Italy, Kenya, Latvia, Malaysia, Mexico, Netherlands, Pakistan, Poland, Portugal, Philippines, Romania, Russia, South Korea, Taiwan, Thailand, Turkey, UAE, Ukraine, United Kingdom.

We hope to see you at the Consumer Electronics Show!

 

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Largest Annual U.S. Government Trade Mission Heads to Southeast Europe

December 21, 2016

Leslie Drake is the Director of the U.S. Commercial Service Team in West Virginia, and is Project Director for the Trade Winds-Southeast Europe Forum and Trade Mission.

After ten years of creating business success for hundreds of U.S. companies in promising markets around the world, I’m proud to announce that the Trade Winds forum and trade mission will head to Southeast Europe in October 2017.

Our Commercial Service team will lead U.S. companies from across business sectors to meet with prospective business partners, government decision-makers, regional press outlets, and European market experts. Trade Winds-Southeast Europe will be an excellent opportunity for companies to find insight and access to markets that are heavily investing in growth and are receptive to U.S. partners and products.

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Trade Winds will feature a business forum in Romania, with networking events with government leaders, plenary sessions with U.S. companies already finding success in the region, and one-to-one business counseling with market experts on the ground in Europe.

Optional mission stops in Bulgaria, Croatia, Greece, and Serbia will connect U.S. companies to qualified, pre-screened potential partners that can help your business hit the ground running in new markets.

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1-on-1 counseling with Lain America market experts at Trade Winds.

We chose these markets because of their projected growth and their strategic location as potential footholds in a larger European export strategy. The region features strategic ports and bustling overland trade routes to established markets, and these individual markets are all heavily investing in infrastructure growth and market development.

Companies that look to Southeast Europe now will be in on what we see as a promising trend for global business.

Our Commercial Service teams in the United States and Europe are excited to welcome what we know will be a strong U.S. delegation for Trade Winds, and to see these U.S. companies succeed in what we know is a promising region. If your company or organization is ready to find new customers in Europe, please join us at Trade Winds-Southeast Europe.

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Partnering to Support America’s Independent Music Industry

December 20, 2016

Jamie Merriman is Acting Director of ITA’s Office of Strategic Partnerships

The American music industry is integral to the U.S. economy and its culture. The growth of the U.S. music industry has a multiplier effect, impacting businesses in other industries, including technology, manufacturing, television, film, advertising, and video gaming.

Recognizing the importance of music to the U.S. economy and its potential for growth in the international market, the International Trade Administration (ITA) partnered with The American Association of Independent Music (A2IM) in 2012.  Thanks to funding from a Market Development Cooperator Program (MDCP) award, A2IM has been able to support its members’ participation in trade events around the world, generating over $40 million in business for over fifty member companies.

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ITA’s delegation with the Consul General in Hamburg during the A2IM Trade Mission to Hamburg.

A2IM was introduced to ITA through its New York U.S. Export Assistance Center in February 2011. During the first meeting, A2IM learned of ITA’s export services such as the Gold Key, tailored business counseling and partners search, the International Buyer Program (IBP), the Market Development Cooperator Program (MDCP), and the State Trade and Export Promotion (STEP) program available to NY exporters.

In the fall of 2011, A2IM embarked on its first ever trade mission to Asia (Beijing, China, Hong Kong, and Seoul, South Korea) via the STEP grant, and with support from ITA. A2IM subsequently applied for the MDCP in cooperation with The Recording Academy, and was awarded in August 2012.  In 2015 A2IM furthered their relationship with ITA by becoming a Strategic Partner.

A2IM’s MDCP award established and expanded trade missions for American independent music labels and created American pavilions at global industry trade shows.  Since the inception of the MDCP project, A2IM member companies have taken advantage of financial assistance to attend the world’s largest music industry trade shows and participate in trade missions in key markets that were identified in coordination with ITA.

MDCP award funds helped cover the travel and personnel costs needed to make these sales happen.  With the first ever government assistance of this kind for the music industry, these business relationships will continue to grow, supporting U.S artists and associated U.S. businesses for years to come.

The results have been extremely positive.  A2IM estimates that during the MDCP program, participating member firms increased their exports by a total of over $40 million across nearly 400 export transactions. Bob Frank Entertainment and Thirty Tigers are prime examples of A2IM members who were able to achieve export success through the program. These two companies participated in major trade shows, such as MIDEM in France and Canadian Music Week, as well as trade missions to strategic markets, including Brazil. Both of these small firms were able to garner distribution and licensing agreements at these events, resulting in over $1 million in estimated new international revenue for each firm. This is a big deal for small businesses.

In 2016, ITA’s Global Media & Entertainment Team, including staff from Marseille, New York  and Washington D.C, provided extensive business-to-business (B2B) matchmaking and trade services support for A2IM at MIDEM 2016, the premier global B2B market place and trade show for the music industry – which celebrated its 50th Anniversary this year.  There were over 200 U.S independent music firms represented in the A2IM Pavilion, with dozens of meetings facilitated during the conference. The team also provided services at the Reeperbahn Festival in Hamburg and the Amsterdam Dance Event, both growing markets for the global music industry.

The American Association of Independent Music (“A2IM”) is the 501(C)(6) not-for-profit trade organization created to protect the rights, educate and promote commerce for the American Independent music label community. A2IM’s membership includes over 390 music labels of varying sizes and all musical genres across the country, plus more than 300 associated member companies that provide services to the music industry, representing the diversity of American music.

Click here for more information about A2IM’s Market Development Cooperator Program (MDCP) project.

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How Manufacturers Can Energize Their Trade Show Cycle in 2017

December 19, 2016

Pamela Plagens is a Senior International Trade Specialist at the International Trade Administration

Manufacturers are always looking for synergies within their operations: when two things work together to deliver a result that’s greater than their individual impact.

Now, allow us at ITA help your company realize the synergy of participating in two very important events in 2017 to grow your international sales: Discover Global Markets: Advanced Manufacturing and HANNOVER MESSE.

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Just like manufacturers look to maximize efficiencies in their operations, using both Discover Global Markets: Advanced Manufacturing and HANNOVER MESSE can provide synergies to your export business in 2017.

Here’s how you can parlay both events to take your export business to the next level:

Discover Global Markets: Advanced Manufacturing, Feb. 16 – 17, Scottsdale, Arizona

The Discover Global Markets series offers a way for U.S. companies to gain specialized market intelligence from around the world at an unbelievable value. You can meet one-on-one with U.S. commercial diplomats from over 20 countries to gain customized market intelligence for your firm. Why travel to 20 different international markets when the markets can come to you?

An executive at Pampered Perch, a Texas-based manufacturer of products for nail and hair solons, had this to say after attending a previous Discover Global Markets event:

“This conference was extraordinarily well done…I got all the contacts I will need to pursue export opportunities in Canada, Singapore, and France.  Thank you for your excellent, efficient and informative conference.”

Discover Global Markets: Advanced Manufacturing will also feature industry experts who will share export opportunities in Latin America, Asia, and Europe in engaging formats.

Now is the time to sign up! The cost is only $425 – a bargain considering the value you’ll bring back to your company.

Attending the Discover Global Markets event in sunny Scottsdale (in February, no less) is one of the most cost-effective ways to gain global market intelligence to your firm. Taking that market intelligence and finding willing buyers is the next step, which is where the HANNOVER MESSE fair comes in.

HANNOVER MESSE, April 24 – 28, Hannover, Germany

HANNOVER MESSE is the world’s largest industrial technology trade fair, featuring seven leading trade shows and an investment summit all in one. More than 200,000 attendees from more than 70 countries come to Hannover for the event – it’s a “who’s who” for both the manufacturing and technology industries where U.S. companies have had great success finding business partners.

As one example, Insequence, a Tennessee-based small business that makes software for the manufacturing and logistics industries, attended HANNOVER MESSE for the first time last year. They were looking for a way to promote their expansion into Europe, and as a result of attending HANNOVER MESSE the company was able to make sales in Europe and North America. Here’s what their marketing manager had to say after attending HANNOVER MESSE:

“We came into contact with potential end-user companies that we would have never met due to their geographical location. HANNOVER MESSE and the Commercial Service have provided us with substantial publicity, branding and public relations opportunity.”

HANNOVER MESSE is the place to put your market intelligence into action, it’s where you can show off your products, meet with prospective buyers, and move your new contacts towards that all-important purchasing decision. Booths in the U.S. pavilion at HANNOVER MESSE start at $7,200.

Finally, there’s a common thread that weaves itself between these two events that will delivery maximum value for your firm: the U.S. Commercial Service. The trade experts at the U.S. Commercial Service will support any and all of the attendees at Discover Global Markets: Advanced Manufacturing, as well as those U.S. companies who make the trip to HANNOVER MESSE. They will help you formulate your export strategy, identify the most promising international markets, help schedule meetings with buyers, and ensure you’re making the most of both events.

So as your 2017 calendar comes together with trade shows and events, I strongly encourage you to talk with the U.S. Commercial Service about how these two events can “work together” to save you thousands of dollars and take your export business to the next level.

 

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Putting the “Global” in Global Delaware

December 15, 2016

Emma Pautler is Marketing Director of Global Delaware 

For Global Delaware, 2016 has been an exciting and busy year. We have long known of the critical role foreign direct investment (FDI) plays in our state economy; indeed, FDI in Delaware directly supports more than 28,000 jobs. But sometimes it is just as important to pause and reflect on how it all comes about. 

The First State is known for its business friendly corporate law – and part of our work at Global Delaware is focused on showcasing this – not to mention the economic infrastructure that provides for quick and easy access to markets, our approachable local government. . . (OK, we will spare you the full pitch).

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Delegates from the Embassy of Spain meet with representatives of Global Delaware and SelectUSA Deputy Investment Services Director David Campbell at SevOne Inc.’s Newark, Delaware campus.

Since January, we’ve hosted delegations from China, France, Germany, Portugal, Spain, and Turkey. In April, we joined the largest-ever U.S. delegation in the USA Pavilion at Hannover Messe 2016; President Barack Obama even stopped by our booth and posed for a picture with a cardboard cutout of a well-known Delawarean – Vice President Joe Biden. In June, the largest startup campus in Europe, Factory Berlin, opened its first U.S. location in Wilmington.  We also attended the 2016 SelectUSA Investment Summit, which led to several new leads – and we’ve been busy hosting, following up and assisting the many business owners we met there. There’s no way we are missing the 2017 Investment Summit next June!

Many people from different sectors and organizations pulled together in order to make this all happen.  Indeed, some of these successes would not have been possible without help from our friends at SelectUSA and the Department of Commerce. Deputy Investment Services Director David Campbell traveled to Delaware to help us welcome delegates from the Spanish Embassy. Investment Specialist Nathan Regan helped us with market research to lock in a French IT company, slated to open their operations in January 2017. The U.S. Consul General in Munich Jennifer Gavito, together with our friend Jana Dorband, kindly supported our many trips to Berlin to finalize details for Factory Berlin’s launch.

A growing challenge (though not necessarily a bad one) for our team has been how not to become victims of our own success.  Delaware IS welcoming and business friendly – but we are also so much more than corporations.  This is why, beyond meeting with delegations and international business owners, we’ve spent a great deal of time developing innovative strategies that create value for international investors looking to bring their business to Delaware.

The most exciting endeavor in this field was the launch of the Delaware Blockchain Initiative. Governor Jack Markell announced the project in May, generating interest around the world. This technology efficiently records financial transactions between parties on a network without the costs and delays associated with intermediaries. We are already working hard with entrepreneurs around the world to develop practical applications.

In short, over the past year, we have forged international partnerships and implemented new strategies that show the world that the First State is open for investment like never before. Given the incredible successes we saw this year, we are excited to see what 2017 holds. Stay tuned by visiting our website and following us on Twitter.

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Finding Foreign Buyers Through eCommerce Sales Channels

December 15, 2016

James Bledsoe is Deputy Director of the eCommerce Innovation Lab

eCommerce is the future of cross-border trade.  Most conservative estimates posit that ecommerce will be responsible for over 50 percent of all global sales by 2020; this percentage is even higher in the retail sector. Around the world, 95 percent of the global consumers hold 75 percent of the global purchasing power—is  your business in a position to connect with these online consumers?  With ecommerce sales, it is not so much about finding the buyers online, but rather finding out where it is online that the buyers can find you.

Before you invest heavily in an ecommerce market strategy, I and my office of the ecommerce Innovation Lab, part of the Department of Commerce, recommend that you should first take time to conduct basic research about the existing ecommerce market for your products or services.

[Download Video 18MB]

There are Country Commercial Guides available for you to use, as well as ecommerce-specific Country Briefs that will help you to Identify eCommerce Market Opportunities for your target markets.  There are many online tools to help you find out which market is right for you; for example, Google’s Market Finder can help translate keywords into target market languages to see their popularity by the relative values placed on them.

I also recommend that for your online business you should work on an ecommerce strategy:

  1. Objectives: What do you want your online presence to achieve? Are you looking for an active sale through your website, or are you educating the potential buyer for a more passive sale?
  2. Resources: What are your contingency options for sales? The return-on-investment (ROI) you put into building your consumer networks may be months away.
  3. Target Market and Audience: Who are your buyers? Businesses?  Young consumers?  This will determine how you will approach your online presence.
  4. Competitor Analysis: Who are your closest competitors? What makes them successful online?  Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.
  5. Website Feature List: Create a simple mockup of what functions and abilities you want your site to have before you decide on a professional web developer to help you.

Next, you will want to Choose the Right Channel Mix of ecommerce sales channels to pursue in your target market to help you be found by the consumers you are targeting.  There are four general sales channels for ecommerce:

  • Your Own Website – you educate for a passive sale or actively process sales through your own website. This can be your US-based site, or a country-specific site through your web developer.
  • Online Marketplaces – Amazon, eBay, Baidu, Mercado Livre.
  • Third Party Distributor – they will sell your products through their website, utilizing their existing in-country sales and marketing networks.
  • Social Media – a great opportunity to establish a presence/brand, but be sure to use a local marketing firm that is aware of and sensitive to local culture and traditions.

I don’t recommend that you solely focus on one ecommerce sales channel, but rather choose the right mixture of sales channels for your business. For example,70 percent your own website, 20 percent online marketplaces, 10 percent social media; or 40 percent online marketplaces, 50 percent third party distributor, 10 percent social media, for example.  In other words, cast the widest (and smartest) net possible to establish yourself in online positions where your consumers frequently visit.

My best advice for businesses looking for online buyers, both business-to-business (B2B) and business-to-consumer (B2C), is to work with a local distributor to get established in that market.  Local partners have the existing marketing infrastructure that you don’t have to invest in, the existing customer networks that you don’t have to build, and most importantly, the local recognition and reputation that you don’t need to establish outside of your product/brand.  There are Matchmaking Services that our International Trade Specialists can assist you in finding the right in-country partner through our 85 overseas U.S. Embassy postings.  You should also consider contacting your nearest trained Global eCommerce Specialist for free counselling to help you develop your eCommerce strategy and guide you through the cross-border ecommerce landscape.

For more information on resources available to find reliable partners and foreign buyers, see the Exporting Basics videos on Finding Foreign Buyers.The videos discuss the many ways to find foreign buyers, including: using local sales representatives, taking advantage of customized exporting services, attending trade shows or trade missions, and connecting through ecommerce.