The National Export Initiative (NEI) is a multi-year effort to increase U.S. jobs by increasing the number of companies exporting and by expanding the number of international markets where U.S. sell their products and services. The federal government’s trade promotion and export finance agencies are partnering with large and small businesses to double U.S. exports by 2014. By the end of 2011, the U.S. had increased exports by 16% putting us on a path to achieve our goal.
In December 2011, Commerce Secretary John Bryson reinforced the focus on increasing exports in his speech to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce where he included increasing exports as one of three top priorities in our efforts to “Build it Here, Sell it Everywhere.” Secretary Bryson explained that American companies must be able to reach the 95 percent of the world’s consumers who live beyond U.S. borders. “Many companies would like to export — they have great products to sell — but they just aren’t sure how to get started. Small businesses in particular often face big challenges getting export financing, building relationships with foreign suppliers or dealing with unfamiliar foreign rules and regulations.”
The NEI office within in the U.S. Department of Commerce’s International Trade Administration is leading the efforts to attain the five year goal of doubling exports. They are coordinating the trade promotion and finance support resources of federal government. The NEI office supports U.S. companies gain footholds in new and emerging markets overseas by providing a comprehensive toolkit of services – from financing to counseling to promotion – to help potential exporters grow and expand.
One resource in the toolkit is the ExporTech program. ExporTech accelerates a company’s entrance or expansion into global markets. Participating companies develop an international growth plan by working with private industry and government trade experts helping the firm move quickly beyond planning to actual export sales. The companies meet for three, one-day sessions over a three-month period, and, in between sessions, participants work with these experts to develop their specific export plans. The workshop is customized to the learning needs of each participant, and includes specialized attention to each company’s exporting and manufacturing challenges.
ExporTech is deployed nationally as a collaboration of the National Institute of Standard and Technology’s Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MEP) program, U.S. Export Assistance Centers, and other partners including District Export Councils, State Trade Economic and Development, Ex-Im Bank and the Small Business Administration. MEP has completed 53 ExporTech sessions in 23 states. Over 360 companies have participated and reported the following results:
- Average sales increase of $170,000 per company
- Sales generated within 3 to 6 months
- Average cost savings/avoidance $34,000
These are impressive results and you may be surprised to learn which companies have increased exports with the support of the ExporTech program and the NEI.
Lou-Rich, Inc., a company in Albert Lea, Minnesota that is successfully competing in markets where manufacturing has been shipped overseas. Lou-Rich builds products for the agriculture, medical and food services markets. Lou-Rich Inc. has charted a new overseas strategy and is seeing sales skyrocket.
Paula Turlington, Vice President of SII Dry Kilns in Lexington, North Carolina explains that “business is not the same at home as it used to be”. “Even to be stable, we need new markets.” NC State University’s ExporTech program, the NIST MEP local affiliate, helped the company to secure more than $800,000 in new sales, but more importantly, from a new and unexpected market – Russia.
Anne Ward, Co-owner, Sales & Quality Manager of Huot Instruments, LLC in Menomonie, Wisconsin, an innovative, technology-leading medical device manufacturer sums it up best: “What I liked most about ExporTech was the opportunity to learn about exporting from specialists with a range of experience, including bankers, freight forwarders, attorneys and more. In addition, ExporTech featured manufacturers who shared their experience building an export program – valuable information that focused on the nuts and bolts of getting things done.”
“Each presenter provided a special value to us. WMEP provided excellent insight into developing a solid value proposition and provided support and advice on how to access export resources. The between-session coaching element was essential - it helped us stay on task and on schedule so that we ultimately developed a program that makes our goal of opening one new international market per year achievable. I make it a point to recommend ExporTech to other companies I work with. Any manufacturer that’s considering exporting should enroll in ExporTech – the knowledge provided is indispensable.”
Lou-Rich, SII Dry Kilns, and Huot Instuments are all examples of U.S. ingenuity at work and export success stories in 2011. Will your company join them in 2012?