On first blush, the idea of exporting products and services to another country can seem daunting, overwhelming, or confusing to businesses that have never done it before. However, New Hampshire has a prolific network of resources to support new and currently exporting businesses with financing, insurance, export controls, market research, logistics, and other specialized aspects of the exporting business.
To get an introduction to the world of exporting opportunities, we interviewed Tina Kasim, international program manager for the Office of International Commerce. Tina has more than 10 years of experience in international economic development programs. She started her career with the New Hampshire Division of Travel and Tourism Development, before moving to Jordan and later to Washington, DC, where she worked on internationally funded economic development programs in the Middle East-North Africa Region. She then brought this diverse range of expertise back to New Hampshire and the OIC, a part of the Division of Economic Development.
Tina Kasim, NH Office of International Commerce, and Justin Oslowski, US Department of Commerce, at the Paris International Air Show, where five NH businesses exhibited in 2013.
With the assistance of the OIC and the support of STEP Grants, many companies have been able to participate in international business events over the last several years. Can you share some brief success stories from companies that attended those events?
Over the last few years, the State Trade Export Promotion (STEP) grant has enabled our program to offer several opportunities to New Hampshire exporters, including access to and attendance at key international trade activities, in order to build a presence in a variety of markets.
Whether funding was put toward a State of New Hampshire pavilion made up of several New Hampshire exporters at a trade show or funding provided via a matching grant dedicated a company’s sales mission to Europe, OIC’s approach to put the STEP grant to use effectively centered on the needs of New Hampshire businesses.
Their successes range from signing distributors and agents in new markets, which allows them to increase sales, to connecting with numerous existing and potential clients in a single arena that allows them to nurture the relationship they have been cultivating for many years. After all, a lot, if not all, business is based on relationships.
Additional successes include the increased make-up of international sales in the revenues of participating businesses, which have resulted in the creation of new jobs in the state.
OIC is one piece of a larger infrastructure that supports businesses in their exporting efforts. Can you share a bit about the other public and private sector organizations all working together to serve New Hampshire’s exporting businesses?
The OIC is one link to a global network supported by the US Department of Commerce/US Commercial Service. Wherever in the world there is a US embassy or consulate, there is a team on hand that works to advocate and promote US businesses in that market.
OIC is also closely connected to SBDC, SBA, Export-Import Bank, and SCORE, all of which help tackle issues related to developing an international marketing plan and finding the financing for your export plans.
OIC also has a key partnership with the Granite State District Export Council (an affiliate of the US Department of Commerce, made up of mostly private sector business people), which offers peer-to- peer counseling to all things related to international business.
The great thing though about all these resources is the fact that there is no wrong door to knock on when you want to get into this line of business. Everything you may need is only a phone call or an email away.
Why, in your opinion, is New Hampshire such a great place for exporters to start or expand their businesses?
New Hampshire companies are run by savvy business owners and teams. They’re aggressive in identifying new markets and opportunities and they have great products and services to export that are innovative and really customized based on client requests. There is also this tight-knit network of resources available to businesses for the vast array of questions or obstacles that might pop up for business owners when developing international markets.
Where do you see the biggest opportunities for growth for New Hampshire businesses?
There is not a one-size-fits-all answer to this question; it really does depend on the sector/industry on which a business focuses and which markets are best suited to the product or service.
Trends are pointing to areas in the Middle East for the medical sector, where there is a high demand for solutions, monitoring equipment and delivery of medications related to diabetes. The region is also experiencing the construction of new and big hospitals in various parts of the countries and has a need to monitor patients remotely.
The aviation industry as a whole is and will continue to see the need for components for airplanes, as airliners replace aging fleets with more fuel efficient and lightweight materials. There are also several new airports and airport expansions under construction in various parts of the world, many connected to major world sporting events. These airports and the event organizers and cities need safety and security equipment and tools.
There is a growing interest in East Coast seafood from China and Japan, where the clean and high quality of our seafood is held in very high regard.
There are also demands for water recycling, treatment, conservation, and management, not only in the world’s driest locations but also in areas prone to flooding.
Again, it is not a one-size-fits-all solution or answer for New Hampshire businesses, but we can help narrow things down in order to see what is the best fit and to be successful.
What programs do you have coming up for companies wanting to start or expand their exporting activities?
Keep an eye out for our on going webinar series. We select the topics based on feedback from the businesses, so if there is a particular area you think is a challenge to your business and others in the international realm (i.e., what is an ATA Carnet, Incoterms, etc.), just let us know. In the fall, we’ll have a couple of export compliance trainings available to businesses.
We also have the Export Expansion Fund, available to businesses looking to find and vet in-country partners; run a background check on a potential partner; or conduct a preliminary search of interest for a particular product in a market. This is all done in partnership with the US Department Commerce/US Commercial Service.
If you have any questions about these upcoming and ongoing activities, please contact Tina Kasim at email@example.com or visit ExportNH.org