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Small Businesses Urged to Grow Through Exporting
On February 17, 2011, in Minneapolis, Minnesota, several hundred attendees at an all-day conference heard from government officials and business experts about the government resources available to help small businesses export. (photo courtesy Minnesota Department of Natural Resources/Deborah Rose)
This February, the inaugural conference for a national tour in support of the National Export Initiative came to Minneapolis, Minnesota. The conference, which focused on federal and state resources that help small businesses export, brought a message of encouragement and growth.
by John Ward
Representatives from more than 200 small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) were encouraged to tap into new world markets by Secretary of Commerce Gary Locke at the inaugural “New Markets, New Jobs” conference held in Minneapolis on February 17, 2011, at the University of Minnesota.
In his remarks at the all-day event, Locke emphasized how important engagement with the global marketplace will be to the future economic well-being of the United States. “In his State of the Union address a few weeks ago, [President Barack Obama] said how important it was for America to win the future. He said the most important contest our nation faces is not between Democrats and Republicans, but between America and countries around the world that are competing like never before for the jobs and industries of the future. Here in Minneapolis, you are on the front lines of that competition.”
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For More Information
The “New Markets, New Jobs” tour is a yearlong, interagency outreach campaign designed to bring government services to businesses, especially to small and medium-sized enterprises, that are interested in exporting. Future events are scheduled to take place in Los Angeles, California; Louisiana; and Wilmington, Delaware. For more information about the National Export Initiative, or to see announcements of future events, go to www.export.gov/nei.
For information on federal resources available to assist companies looking to export, or for additional counseling and advice, contact the Trade Information Center, tel.: 1-800-USA-TRADE (1-800-872-8723), or visit the center’s Web site at www.export.gov.
The Minneapolis event was the first in a series of monthly conferences that will focus on exporting by SMEs. It was organized as part of the National Export Initiative (NEI), a presidential export promotion initiative that supports President Obama’s call for doubling U.S. exports by 2015.
The Minneapolis conference featured presentations by a number of other prominent federal, state, and local officials who are responsible for economic development and exporting. They included Ron Kirk, U.S. trade representative; Karen Mills, administrator of the U.S. Small Business Administration; Fred Hochberg, chair of the Export–Import Bank of the United States; Kathleen Merrigan, deputy secretary of agriculture; Mark Dayton, governor of Minnesota; and R. T. Rybak, mayor of Minneapolis.
Along with those presentations, a series of panels and breakout sessions formed the core of the conference. The panels and sessions focused on such topics as new export opportunities in Canada and Mexico, navigating the Chinese export market, and export financing in Minnesota.
The sessions allowed for valuable interaction among the participating companies. “Having [a] panel there with three different local companies was great,” noted Tate Preston, director of international business development at tenKsolar, a Minneapolis manufacturer of photovoltaic systems. “Everyone could identify with some issue that one of those companies faced.”
Exports and the Economy
Exports are an important part of the U.S. economy. They directly support nearly 10 million jobs, which pay on average about 15 percent more than the average wage. One in three manufacturing jobs and almost one in five agricultural jobs are tied to exporting. According to data released by the Department of Commerce, exports grew by nearly 17 percent in 2010, after dropping 14.6 percent in 2009.
Speaking directly to small businesses, Locke noted in his remarks that “for the American economy to produce the millions of new jobs we need in the years ahead, we need our small and medium-sized businesses to lead the way. When you succeed, the entire American economy succeeds.”
John Ward is a writer in the International Trade Administration’s Office of Public Affairs.
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