2021 OEDC Stakeholder Report

Small Business Export Assistance

Exporting can be a very effective expansion strategy for small businesses. This team works with companies throughout the state to connect them with international trade event support, business matchmaking, market intelligence, advocacy and risk mitigation they need to successfully enter new markets or expand activities in existing ones. As the pandemic spread to the U.S. the SBEA team pivoted quickly to host virtual webinars on exporting, online B2B meetings and virtual trade shows and trade missions to provide small businesses, particularly those in rural and underserved communities, with opportunities to engage in and expand their trade operations. This shift in strategy and programming is drawing in new businesses that haven’t considered international trade as a core business activity, creating growth opportunities in a volatile economy as businesses reach out to new markets and new customers abroad. When conditions allow, the SBEA team will pivot once again to a blended model of virtual and in-person events, including 15 international trade shows and missions.

Businesses were supported primarily through the Export Voucher Program, which offers qualifying companies that are new to exports or entering new markets up to $,000 to offset expenses. Funded in part by the SBA’s State Trade Expansion Program, the vouchers can be used to defray trade show or trade mission fees, airfare, website translation services, export training programs and more. Obviously, the pandemic has affected the program as trade shows were canceled worldwide to combat COVID-19.

The OEDC actively recruits businesses that represent rural and underserved communities. This chart shows the results of this effort to extend the STEP Voucher program to businesses throughout the state. Results are self-reported and not all businesses self-identify with one of these demographics. Some report in more than one category, such as a veteran-owned business in a rural community.

Small Business Export Assistance team members work with small businesses throughout the state to either create new export opportunities or increase existing opportunities through participation in targeted international trade events, market research, matchmaking, consulting and risk mitigation.

Africa: most notably South Africa; Asia: China, Japan, South Korea, India and Taiwan primarily; South/Latin America: Argentina and Brazil; Middle East, notably UAE and Israel.

Agriculture companies were supported through export training and export vouchers only.

OEDC Consultant Network

Map of Commerce small business consultants worldwide