The Export Excellence Program is a resource for businesses looking to expand internationally
The export market has been a bright spot for Idaho businesses looking to increase sales and expand their customer base. Idaho businesses exported a record $6.1 billion in 2012, and exports have more than doubled in the past decade, according to data from the Idaho Department of Commerce.
But becoming a player overseas is not without its challenges, as businesses learn to identify new markets and navigate legal, financial and transportation issues.
Export Excellence: Helping Businesses Develop International Growth Plans
Export Excellence, Idaho’s ExporTech Program, is a great resource for businesses looking to expand to international markets.
The program is a collaboration between:
- The Manufacturing Extension Partnership
- U.S. Export Assistance Centers
- District export councils
- State trade offices
- The Ex-Im Bank
- The U.S. Small Business Administration
Export Excellence assists participating companies in:
- Developing an international growth plan
- Providing experts who will vet their plans
- Connecting companies with organizations that will help them move quickly beyond planning to actual export sales
“No other program offers such horsepower,” says Bill Mullane of TechHelp, Idaho’s Manufacturing Extension Partnership, which provides services as a partnership of the state’s three universities. “I tell our clients about it all the time. If they want to know about exporting, they need to be in that class.”
The Export Excellence Process
Each year, six to eight Idaho companies are selected in mid-July to participate in the Export Excellence program in the fall, according to Mullane, who says members of the Idaho District Export Council help choose the participants.
The companies meet for three one-day sessions over a three-month period. Between sessions, participants develop their export plans.
Each participating company is assigned an export coach from the Idaho District Export Council and an intern from Boise State University’s International Business Program to assist with the creation of a customized Export Action Plan.
At the end of the program, an expert panel awards the strongest plan with the ‘Best in Class” designation and a free U.S. Commercial Service Gold Key.
Gary DeGrange and Lee Gibbs of Zions Bank’s International Banking Department in Idaho have both served as export coaches in the program.
As members of Idaho’s District Export Council both DeGrange and Gibbs volunteer their time to sponsor and participate in trade promotion activities as well as supply specialized expertise to small and medium-sized businesses that are interested in exporting.
Gibbs has provided coaching to High Country Fusion Company of Fairfield, Idaho, the 2013 U.S. Small Business Administration Region 10 Exporter of the Year and a worldwide leader in high-density polyethylene piping, custom fittings and structures. Gibbs also coached 2013 “Best in Class” Award Winner Metageek of Boise.
DeGrange has provided coaching to 1,4 Group Inc. of Meridian, Idaho, a leading supplier of innovative dormancy and sprout-inhibiting products for the potato storage industry.
“The thing that we took away from the program that has been very valuable to us is the opportunity to create a blueprint for our exporting that can be repeated,” says Alison Dawson of 1,4 Group Inc. “It helps us to know what we need to do — and in what order — for each country regardless of the country and regardless of the requirements.”
Mullane notes that the most successful companies are already exporting but are looking to ramp up their growth by developing their most profitable export opportunities. “It exposes the company to lots of resources that they might not have known about,” Mullane says. “There’s a start date and an end date, and in a three-month period, they have access to all the resources they might need to create an effective export action plan. It helps them focus their efforts and accelerate exports.”
For additional information or to apply for the 2014 Export Excellence program, contact Jennifer Verdon at (208) 334‐2650 Ext 2117 or Jennifer.Verdon@commerce.idaho.gov.