Exporting can help businesses expand, create jobs at home

By Patricia Brown-Dixon / Guest Editorial

In today’s global economy, selling around the world can bring large rewards. It just makes good business sense to expand your customer base to the more than 95 percent of the world’s population outside our country, where demand for American goods and services is growing every day.

Small businesses now constitute 34 percent of our nation’s total export dollars, and make up about 97.8 percent of all exporters. At the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) we provide counseling, training and financing to ensure that small businesses can tap into the global market. Since fiscal year 2009, SBA has guaranteed 6,400 loans to small business exporters for more than $3.3 billion. This financing supported more than $6.3 billion in exports and an untold number of American jobs.

The SBA and other federal partners are all working toward a goal, set by President Barack Obama in his National Export Initiative, to double U.S. exports by 2014. To reach that goal, the president recently signed trade agreements with Colombia, South Korea and Panama to expand export markets. Additionally, in his State of the Union address, the president announced that we will launch talks on a comprehensive Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership with the European Union. More markets mean more customers, more sales and more jobs here at home.

You might be surprised to learn agricultural products are not the top exports in any of the four Midwestern states of Missouri, Iowa, Kansas and Nebraska in SBA’s Region 7, and that architectural and construction services are in high demand. According to the reports released in February 2013 by U.S. Department of Commerce’s International Trade Administration (ITA), 2012 export statistics showed machinery as Iowa’s largest export merchandise category and the latest statistics dated 2009 indicate about one-fifth of Iowa manufacturing workers depend on exports for their jobs. ITA statistics indicate that in 2010, of the 2,596 companies who exported from Iowa, 2,174 (84 percent) were small and medium-sized enterprises with fewer than 500 employees, who generated over one quarter (29 percent) of Iowa’s total exports.

If you are a small business looking to export, U.S. Export Assistance Centers (USEACS) are a great resource. The centers are staffed by professionals from SBA, Department of Commerce, the U.S. Export-Import Bank and other public and private organizations. Their specific mission is to provide assistance to small businesses that will allow them to compete in today’s global marketplace. In SBA’s Region 7, USEACS are located in Kansas City and St. Louis, but each of SBA’s district offices has an international trade officer who can act as your liaison to other federal exporting assistance.

For more information, please contact Dave Lentell at the SBA district office in Des Moines at (515) 284-4522 or at thomas.lentell@sba.gov.


Patricia Brown-Dixon is Region 7 Administrator of the U.S. Small Business Administration.