Chamber to host International Trade Conference event

Several experts with the Small Business Association (SBA) will be on hand to share their expertise with local business owners and the city about how to get into exporting their goods and services.

Kenny Craig, chamber president and CEO, said the conference will detail how to export supplies and materials overseas.

“This was developed after a conversation with the SBA on the topic,” Craig said. “Several business owners had approached me about the idea of exporting and that’s how the connection was made with the SBA, and then we decided to organize the event.”

One of the speakers at the conference will be Chris Simpson, who is an international trade specialist with the U.S. Commercial Service in Cincinnati. His agency is the trade promotion arm of the U.S. Department of Commerce’s International Trade Administration.

“We have trade professionals in over 100 U.S. cities and in more than 75 countries to help U.S. companies get started in exporting or increase sales to new global markets,” Simpson said. “I oversee 14 counties in southwestern Ohio and three in Northern Kentucky.”

Simpson explained that many business owners, particularly on the smaller side, don’t realize that they are missing out on reaching a 90 to 95 percent larger consumer base by not looking into exporting their products and services overseas.

“It does take a commitment to learn the process, but there is a lot of help available with that and it is a learnable skill,” he said. “The SBA does a good job of teaching that skill and making plenty of resources available to businesses that need them to learn about exporting.”

Learning how to conduct market research and all of the available assistance for the U.S. Commercial Service will be a large part of Simpson’s discussion that the chamber event.

Jody Gunderson, director of economic development for Hamilton, feels that the topic is something business owners should become more educated about.

“I have attended one of these conferences in Dayton, and I believe it’s a good opportunity for small business owners to learn of the many hurdles that are required to export products overseas, and what federal assistance is available to help them navigate those obstacles,” he explained. “The lecture I went to was very insightful, and I think they help companies feel more comfortable about taking the next step in the growth of their companies.”

Sherry Armstead, owner of Art On/Off Symmes, who was selected by the chamber as this year’s Small Business Person of the Year, said she is not ready to consider getting into the export business.

“I represent over 400 American artists and vendors. I do sell my own paintings, but would not consider selling them overseas,” Armstead said.

Glenn Clevenger, Cincinnati’s SBA branch manager, and Alex Kohls, Columbus District SBA export/import district senior manager, will also speak at the conference.

The conference is free and attendees are asked to contact Gwendolyn List of the SBA at 513-684-2814, ext. 200 or Gwendolyn.list@sba.gov to register.

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