(Source: Commerce Department) On the one-year anniversary of the launch of President Obama's National Export Initiative, U.S. Commerce Secretary Gary Locke, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk, Small Business Administration Administrator Karen Mills and Export-Import Bank Chairman Fred Hochberg announced the launch of a year-long, interagency, multi-city outreach campaign designed to help connect small and medium sized businesses (SMEs) with the resources they need to sell more of what they make overseas.
"For America to win the future, more small- and medium-sized businesses must export, because the more small businesses export, the more they produce; the more they produce, the more workers they need, and that means good-paying jobs here at home," Locke said.
"Connecting small- and medium-sized businesses with new export opportunities will help ensure that rural America and its farmers and ranchers can compete and win in the global marketplace," said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. "Increasing exports lays the foundation for American competitiveness and creates strong rural businesses and more rural jobs."
The first of these events is scheduled for February 17 in Minneapolis, MN, which events to follow in Los Angeles, Louisiana and Wilmington, DE. The conferences, which were called for in September's Report to the President on the National Export Initiative, are intended to reach more than 3,500 small and medium sized companies interested in exporting.
The conferences will feature:
- Remarks from senior Obama administration officials;Trade resource panels on key export topics including the spectrum of federal resources that can help businesses begin exporting or expand their exports;
- Materials and resources to guide companies in the process of selling their products to consumers all over the world; and
- Lessons learned from area businesses that have succeeded in utilizing federal resources to expand into new markets and grow their businesses.
"We know that firms that export grow faster, add jobs more quickly, and pay better wages than those that don't. At the same time, 95 percent of the world's customers live beyond our borders. To ensure that our small businesses can compete for those customers, we are working to open more markets and maintain a level playing field," said Kirk.
U.S. SMEs that export are more productive and generate more revenue than SMEs that don't. A recent International Trade Commission survey found that exporting small and medium sized manufacturers in 2009 had more than twice the total revenue of their non-exporting counterparts. They experienced revenue growth of 37 percent between 2005 and 2009, while total revenue declined by 7 percent for non-exporting SME manufacturers over the same period.
Unfortunately, very few small and medium sized businesses export, and they still face significant hurdles in getting their products into new markets, including a lack of readily available information about exporting and market research; challenges in accessing export financing; and strong competition from foreign companies and governments.
"Ninety-five percent of the world's consumers live outside of the United States," Mills said. "In order for small businesses to continue to lead the American economy into prosperity, they need access to the global marketplace. The New Markets, New Jobs tour is another opportunity for SBA, through our nationwide network of resource partners, to help small businesses reach new markets, create jobs and maintain America's global competitiveness."
The NEI aims to double U.S. exports in five years to create several million new jobs. It enhances the U.S. government's trade promotion efforts, increases credit to businesses - especially small and medium sized businesses - looking to export, and continues to improve efforts to remove trade barriers for U.S. companies in foreign markets.