Think International!

(Advertisement from the Virginia Small Business Development Centers)

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The National Exports Initiative (NEI) was developed to address our current economic crisis.  Its goals are to double exports and to create two million new jobs over the next five years through international trade.  Both President Obama and Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell have placed the inception and growth of international trade for small and medium sized businesses as key priorities.

Why international trade?  According to SBDC Global ( and the Small Business Administration (

  • 95% of customers and 73% of the world’s purchasing power is outside of the US.
  • 87% of global growth over the next 5 years will occur outside of the US.
  • The dollar’s declining exchange rate means increased purchasing power in many export markets.
  • Costs for transportation and communications are lower.
  • Trade barriers have been reduced.
  • US imports to emerging markets are booming.
  • International sales can stabilize seasonal selling cycles and other sales fluctuations.
  • The lifecycle of existing products can be extended.

And there are many more reasons to “think international!”

Despite the advantage of moving into new markets, many small- and medium-sized enterprises think they’re too small, too ignorant, or too inexperienced to jump into international waters.  But according to the Small Business Administration, 97% of all exporters are in fact small businesses.  Most (59%) only trade with one foreign country (e.g., Canada or Mexico).  But once you are set up with one country, it is easier to expand your market into other countries.

To help reach the goals of the NEI, the Small Business Jobs Act was signed into law in September, 2010, and it provides resources to increase exporting opportunities for small and medium sized businesses, including:

  • Loans and grants
  • Counseling services by export experts
  • Strengthened export programs at the Department of Agriculture, the Department of Commerce, the Small Business Administration, and the Export-Import Bank.

With funding from the Jobs Act, the Virginia Small Business Development Centers (SBDC) Network is developing an International Trade Initiative, which will be available in Q2 of 2011.  It will help businesses who are interested in international trade become “export ready.”  Once this initial preparation work is done, the Virginia SBDC International Trade Initiative counselors will then introduce the businesses to the appropriate export program and continue helping and supporting them as they expands into these new markets. 

Learn more about the opportunities to expand your markets and increase your global reach with the Virginia SBDC International Trade Initiative at

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