Limited funds need not limit export possibilities
The Economic Development Partnership of North Carolina (EDPNC), as a nonprofit 501(c)(3) corporation, is focused on recruiting new businesses to the state, supporting the needs of existing businesses, connecting exporters to global customers, helping small business owners get their start, and attracting tourists and visitors from all over the world. The EDPNC operates under contract with the North Carolina Department of Commerce while receiving financial support from companies and businesses throughout the state. Governed by a 17-member board of both business and industry leaders, the EDPNC proudly serves as North Carolina’s statewide economic development organization.
The EDPNCs International Trade Team is dedicated to helping North Carolina companies—large and small—enter global markets. Each year, hundreds of North Carolina businesses turn to EDPNC for help with navigating trade agreements and language barriers, attending trade shows and filing the right paperwork.
Over 95% of the world’s population and 80% of the world’s buying power lies outside the United States. Companies wanting to take their business to the next level should incorporate exporting as a key part of the plan. North Carolina’s International Trade Division has experts around the world to help companies prosper in North Carolina by growing internationally. The Division, through two domestic and six foreign office locations, provides expert assistance to North Carolina firms seeking overseas market opportunities. The experienced and multilingual Business Development Managers offer quality assistance and advice on exporting and specialize in specific industry sectors.
The North Carolina Passport to Export Program is designed to help small businesses generate new export revenues and create or retain jobs by preparing them for exporting with an array of trade-related resources and services.
For companies that are interested in exporting but have limited budgets, the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) and the EDPNC currently offer funds through the State Trade & Export Promotion (STEP) Program. The North Carolina Passport to Export Program is designed to help small businesses generate new export revenues and create or retain jobs by preparing them for exporting with an array of trade-related resources and services.
Eligible small businesses must meet SBA size standards, be operating profitably for the past year, must have a product or service for export, and meet the standards and mission of the North Carolina Passport to Export STEP Program. Ineligible small businesses are those that do not have a product or service to export, are acting as intermediaries for other companies, and/or are recruiting foreign investment.
Businesses must apply to the NC Passport to Export Program and be approved prior to attending any international trade event or taking advantage of any export service. There is a maximum limit of three different types of event or activity awards per small business, if program funds are available.
Under this program, North Carolina small businesses can be reimbursed up to $3,000 for expenses of coach-class airfare and lodging affiliated with approved international trade events for up to two company representatives. In addition, eligible businesses can be reimbursed up to $2,000 for export services that include Gold-Key and website and/or marketing material translation services and can be reimbursed up to $5,000 for booth costs to attend an international event.
Awards are allocated to North Carolina based small businesses on a first come, first served basis until the program funds are expended. Events must occur by September 29, 2019, and special consideration will be given to companies that are woman, veteran, and/or minority owned, as well as those that are rurally based. The program will likely continue into 2020 provided North Carolina receives continued funding from the SBA.
By Liz Isley, International Trade Manager, North Carolina Furniture Export Office, Economic Development Partnership of North Carolina