One way to strengthen Northern Arizona’s economy is to look to international markets. That’s where Export University comes in. Held last month in Flagstaff, Export University was a day-long training with government and industry extolling the benefits of international expansion.
It’s like learning to ride a bike, says Andy Kruse, who is passionate about exporting. He cofounded Southwest Windpower in the mid-1980s and exports to countries around the world. “At first, it is difficult, but once you figure out the basic steps, it becomes very easy.”
Kruse gave a presentation at Export U. He delivered the message: “anybody can do this. If you’ve got a business you want to expand, go to exports, because that is where there is a growing market.
“If we want to expand the economy – bring real jobs and real dollars from overseas – we sell our products overseas.” He suggested companies that want to start simply can begin using eBay or Amazon.
Fellow Export U presenter Bill Calloway echoed some of Kruse’s sentiments. He serves as the Plant Manager for Nestle Purina Pet Care, one of the event’s sponsors. “Our facility here in Flagstaff exports 20,000 tons a year to New Zealand, so we’ve been in the market a long time. It is kind of exciting to see other businesses coming up and getting into that [exporting] arena,” said Calloway.
In Arizona, teaching these ideas is the business of the U.S. District Export Council, which falls under the U.S. Department of Commerce’s International Trade Administration. There are dozens of Export Assistance Centers, including two in Arizona. In 2011, they are doing seven sessions similar to Flagstaff’s Export University.
The chair of the Arizona District Export Council, Karen Dickinson, describes her nonprofit group as Arizona’s voice for global trade. “If you can expand your market to sell your products outside the country, it increases your company revenues, you can hire more people, that helps our economy a lot,” she explained. Dickinson says with 95 percent of the world’s population in other countries, President Barack Obama’s national export initiative (to double U.S. exports in five years) makes sense.
“So, there’s a lot of activity within the U.S. government to try and really help individuals and companies who want to export and expand their businesses.”
Those support services are available on a wider scope than in the past and many representatives attended last month’s export education event. Along with federal support, private sector organizations like Federal Express were on hand as part of their efforts in assisting exporters as they gain new market footholds.
Rich Bowen’s enthusiasm for Export University is contagious. The president and CEO of ECoNA (Economic Collaborative of Northern Arizona) describes exporting as a pivotal economic driver. “Wealth is created when products are sold outside of the region and the money comes back; it creates profits, returns to investors, employment, taxes, and capital,” said Bowen.
In addition to Flagstaff companies already in the game – including Southwest Windpower, Nestle Purina, SCA Tissue, WL Gore, Motor Excellence, Senestech, Machine Solutions and others – he believes many businesses are ready to become more competitive. “This availability of markets is a two-way street; with companies from other countries having access to U.S. markets, it is critical the Flagstaff companies learn to compete in the global marketplace and export their products and services to maximize their potential,” added Bowen.
Arizona’s top five export markets are Mexico, Canada, China, Germany and Singapore. “Our $5.6 billion gross to Mexico last year was helped by our geographical location,” said Fernando Jimenez. He is an international trade and investment vice president for the newly formed Arizona Commerce Authority. Along with proximity, Jimenez says transportation infrastructure assists exports Mexico.
While Arizona’s annual trade has dropped from a high of about $20 billion before the recession, Jimenez says at about $15 billion, exporting remains a cornerstone of the state’s economy. Computer and electronic products make up about a third of the export pie, followed by transportation equipment and electrical machinery (energy wires, cables and wiring devices). Many of these categories are expected to support growth in Arizona’s exports.
In the meantime, trade experts will continue to work with Arizona businesses hoping to expand into international markets. Understanding best prospect markets, financing international sales and protecting intellectual property are just some of the topics covered by the Arizona U.S. Export Assistance Centers. More information is available at www.export.gov/arizona FBN
Prescott Company Recognized for Exporting
Last month, the chair of the Arizona District Export Council, Karen Dickinson, welcomed Congressman Paul Gosar (AZ1) to a reception at Northern Arizona University. Congressman Gosar made a few remarks about the importance of exports in job creation before presenting an Excellence in International Business Award to Patrick Wilson. He is the president of Midway Industries, a performance clutch and pressure plate manufacturer based in Prescott, Arizona. Midway Industries is a three generation family-owned business.
With active distribution in 33 international markets, Midway Industries is a global sales leader with headquarters and manufacturing in Prescott.
Founded in 1982, Midway Industries’ continuous development and improvement of product offerings is reflected in the unique features of the Centerforce clutch line, being protected under nine separate U.S. patents. Today, Centerforce has over 1700 different non-asbestos clutch/pressure plate applications available to the automotive enthusiast. FBN