NC’s small businesses contributing to export sales

January 15, 2013 at 11:13 am

The News & Observer today highlights the role of small businesses in exports and the state programs that exist to help small businesses gain a foothold in this area. The article profiles Ford’s Gourmet Foods, which makes Bone Suckin’ Sauce here in Dunn, NC. The family owned company started exporting their barbecue sauce in the mid-1990s, after taking a course at Wake Tech to learn more about exporting. Since then, Bone Suckin’ Sauce has been sold in countries throughout Europe.

Exports are an important driver of economic growth. Selling outside state and national borders brings new money into our economy and helps to expand to new markets and customers. It’s not just big companies that are exporting. According to a report by the White House, between 2009 and 2010,the number of small businesses exporting increased by 6 percent. In fiscal year 2011, 87 percent of transactions with the Export-Import Bank, which provides financing to companies that are seeking to export goods and services internationally, were with small businesses. In the next few years, the Export-Import Bank aims to add 5,000 new small businesses to its portfolio and double its small business volume to $9 billion.

At the state level, federal funding helped to create the NC Passport to Export program, which provides assistance and education for small exporters. In fiscal year 2012, Passport to Export served 200 small  businesses. This year, it is on track to help 275. The NC Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, the NC Department of Commerce, and the Small Business Technology and Development Center can also help entrepreneurs expand their capacity for exporting. These agencies can help businesses connect with customers, understand regulations, access market research, and participate in trade shows.

Companies like Ford’s Gourmet Foods are an example of how small businesses in the state can become successful not only in local markets but also internationally. This is a big opportunity for the individual companies, as they experience greater growth and are able to hire and retain more workers locally. As for the state, export sales bring funds from outside our borders and injects those funds into our local economy.

It may be harder for small  businesses to begin exporting, given the barriers they may face in understanding the landscape and obtaining the necessary financing. However, with an increased focus at both the federal and state level, programs exist to help these businesses navigate the landscape. With their help, small businesses can further strengthen our state and national economy.



Entry filed under: Economic Development, Economy, Small Business. Tags: , , , .

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