One of the most difficult challenges an expanding business can face is how to bring its products and services to other countries. Language barriers are just the beginning – regulations (domestic and international) must be minded, marketing strategies must be adjusted, contacts must be made, and oftentimes additional funding is required to get a company’s exporting activity off the ground.
To find out more about the resources available to New Hampshire businesses in navigating this landscape, we interviewed Karen Wyman, trade compliance manager at Elbit Systems of America in Merrimack. Ms. Wyman is also the chairman of the Granite State District Export Council, a private, non-profit organization whose members are appointed to four-year terms by the US Secretary of Commerce. DECs connect experienced international business people for mentoring and advising other businesses on their entry or expansion into international markets.
1. The official mission of the Granite State DEC is “to encourage and support exports that strengthen local business, stimulate economic growth and create jobs.” What does that look like on a day-to-day basis?
On a daily basis, the DEC members are called upon to assist other New Hampshire exporters with specific questions or issues they face. DEC members are vetted and approved by the US Department of Commerce to ensure they meet the requirements of DEC membership, such as being able to be of benefit to the local exporting community in a productive and ethical way.
Other activities include the management and running of various grant programs that we have co-funded with other exporting agencies and groups within New Hampshire.
We also participate in the many international trade events hosted around the state and coordinate provision of services with our many partners, in New Hampshire and around the world, especially the New Hampshire Export Assistance Center, New Hampshire Office of International Commerce, New Hampshire Aerospace and Defense Export Consortium and Small Business Development Centers.
We often act as a multiplier for our partners, promoting their events, supporting their activities financially and administratively, etc.
2. Can you share a couple of examples of how the DEC assisted individual businesses recently?
– One DEC member has assisted a New Hampshire exporter needing information on how to export to India and the “ins” and “outs” of having a local representative there;
– Another DEC member has assisted several New Hampshire exporters with specific and general questions regarding export compliance (the regulations overseeing exports of items of national security sensitivity);
– One DEC member recently assisted a New Hampshire exporter with an issue related to the use of a carnet in Italy. A carnet, also known as a merchandise passport, can simplify customs procedures for temporary imports into a country. – Ed.
3. What, in your opinion, are the biggest challenges businesses face today when trying to export their products and services?
– Lack of knowledge of how to penetrate a specific foreign market. Each country has different sets of regulations, norms, and cultural expectations, all of which impact how a product or service is sold in that country. To varying degrees an exporter needs to modify its export strategy for each target country. It’s hard to know all the information you need to be successful in that market. Through the DEC and its many partners, we can help an exporter find those elements needed for its success.
– Complex export regulations. New Hampshire is strong in high technology products and services, whether it’s for the medical, IT, aerospace or defense sectors. Due to the high level of technology involved, the US has regulations to ensure that those technologies do not fall into enemy hands. The various sets of regulations are complex, confusing, and in many cases, overreaching in their control. The DEC, along with our partners and the Congressional Delegation, have been advocating for the alignment and revision of these regulations to meet both the needs of national security and the exporter.
– The need for funding export expansions. Many companies need assistance with capital needed to expand due to an international contract, project, etc., but banks are often skittish about helping. A number of sources for help exist for New Hampshire exporters:
* Export Import Bank – This bank has been a vital resource for a number of exporters as they need capital to fund their international endeavors. It’s a US government agency, which receives no funding from taxes, with the sole purpose of helping US exporters!
* NH Export Expansion Fund – a micro grant system funded in part by the DEC to get a small international project off the ground.
* SBA financial programs – SBA has several programs to assist small exporters.
4. How did you, personally, come to the DEC, and what inspires you to do this work on behalf of NH’s exporters?
I used to work at the state’s International Trade Resource Center when the DEC was reinitiated. I was asked to be a member so I could provide my knowledge in a capacity that was needed by our exporters.
I love helping companies expand their markets internationally. I’ve traveled around the world and have seen and experienced the complexities that exist. It’s very satisfying to help an exporter succeed in a market.
The help I provide ultimately helps the overall state economy. New Hampshire has a very strong mix of beautiful nature, great education and advanced business. I live here, I want to keep it thriving for all of us to enjoy.
5. What events does the DEC have coming up for businesses interested in learning about or ramping up their exporting activities?
Upcoming events are:
– NHADEC annual conference, 4- 8 pm, Wednesday, June 10;
– Healthcare Executive Service to India, Monday, July 27 -Saturday, Aug. 01;
– State of New Hampshire Trade Mission to Colombia, Oct. 19-21.
More information for these events and a listing of all of our events, and those we promote, can be found on our website.