Understand Local Resources and Assistance
No matter where your business is located in the United States, you have access to a range of local export assistance. Exporting U.S.-produced goods and services is great business – and great for jobs and the economy as well. That is why there are so many public and private resources available to help you. Most of these services are free or low-cost.
U.S. Commercial Service (CS) Office
With more than 100 offices nationwide, the U.S. Department of Commerce’s U.S. Commercial Service leads the community of local export assistance providers and helps to bring all available resources together for you. As part of a global network of foreign and domestic offices, CS offers a full range of expertise in international trade. CS’s counseling, market research, and matchmaking services are customized to business needs, and designed, in particular, to help small- and medium-sized businesses.
District Export Council
The U.S. Commercial Service works closely with local District Export Councils (DECs) made up of trade experts and service providers who volunteer to help U.S. companies develop solid export strategies. DECs assist in many of the workshops and seminars on exporting arranged by U.S. Commercial Service offices. DEC members may also provide direct, personal counseling to less experienced exporters by suggesting marketing strategies, trade contacts, and ways to maximize success in overseas markets. You can obtain assistance from DECs through the U.S. Commercial Service offices that they are affiliated with.
Other Federal Resources
In addition to the U.S. Department of Commerce, several other federal agencies provide export assistance in areas such as trade financing and business planning.
- Export Import Bank of the United States (EXIM Bank) staff at our regional export finance centers can counsel export-ready small- and medium-sized businesses on how to obtain EXIM's trade credit insurance and/or working capital loan guarantees https://www.exim.gov/contact.
- The Small Business Administration (SBA) and a number of SBA program partners maintain offices throughout the country. SBA itself provides a wide range of trade financing services, and it and its program officers provide business counseling. SBA maintains a helpful tool for connecting with all of these local resources https://www.sba.gov/local-assistance.
- The U.S. Department of Agriculture, Foreign Agricultural Service supports four State Regional Trade Groups (SRTGs), which in turn assist U.S. companies with creating and expanding export markets for value-added food and agricultural products, including training, market analysis, trade shows and missions, and support for marketing campaigns. You can contact your regional SRTG at https://www.fas.usda.gov/state-regional-trade-groups.
State and Local Government
Most states can provide an array of services to exporters. Many states maintain international offices in major markets; the most common locations are in Western Europe and Japan. Attracting foreign investment and developing tourism are also very important activities of state foreign offices. The State International Development Organization maintains a State Trade Directory at https://www.sidoamerica.org/state-trade-directory/. More and more cities and counties are providing these services. The U.S. Commercial Service and State Governments coordinate export promotion strategies each year. And SBA’s State Trade Expansion Program (STEP) provides financial awards to state and territory governments to assist small businesses with export development https://www.sba.gov/funding-programs/grants/state-trade-expansion-program-step).
A Wide Range of Other Public and Private Partnerships
Chambers of commerce, World Trade Centers, and many other associations and clubs make the local export assistance community even stronger, with their own services and representing invaluable opportunities for business-to-business networking. The U.S. Commercial Service’s Strategic Partnership Program works with trade associations, private corporations, chambers of commerce, government entities, and other organizations to better communicate with U.S. businesses about global opportunities.