GRCC announces new trade partnership

FLINT — The Genesee Regional Chamber of Commerce has announced a new partnership with the International Trade Administration (ITA) U.S. and Foreign Commercial Service.

Both entities have signed a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) to collaborate on increasing awareness of the economic benefits of exporting. The partnership also aims to educate businesses on how exporting can help increase the region’s trade capacity and economic viability, and create jobs.

The ITA has recently announced new export data that shows Michigan merchandise exports increased 12 percent in the first half of 2012 compared to the same period in 2011, growing from $25.2 billion to $28.3 billion. Michigan’s growth exceeded the 7 percent national average for merchandise export growth for the same period.

“The growth in Michigan export numbers help demonstrate that there’s every incentive for U.S. companies to pursue export opportunities,” said Richard Corson, Director of the U.S. Commercial Service in Pontiac. “Foreign buyers have a high appreciation for U.S.-based products and services, and there’s no better time than now to start exporting. We can help companies with their exporting efforts.”

While exports have increased in Michigan, there’s still tremendous opportunity to do more. The intent of the MOA is to work jointly and focus primarily on small- and medium sized business support. The goal also is to help coordinate companies’ export promotion activities, and inform businesses of available trade and export assistance programs.

“In today’s competitive economy, most companies should be assessing their future in the global marketplace” said Tim Herman, CEO of the Genesee Regional Chamber of Commerce. “Our partnership with the U.S. Foreign Commercial Service strengthens our ability to assist them during this process and will broaden our outreach efforts to the business community.”

Exporting is a key initiative for the I-69 International Trade Corridor – a four-county collaborative between Genesee, Lapeer, Shiawassee and St. Clair counties. Businesses located in each county can work with their economic development agencies to take advantage of a variety of trade and export assistance programs.

As the lead economic development organization in Flint-Genesee County, the Genesee Regional Chamber offers export assistance and other business services to companies looking to grow their business.

“We are very excited to partner with the U.S. Foreign Commercial Service and bring another key resource to our portfolio,” said Janice Karcher, Vice President of Economic Development at the Regional Chamber. “We have over 350 companies in Genesee County that are already selling a product or service outside of the region. We want to help these companies continue to expand and help other companies explore how exporting may benefit their business.”

According Kevin Shaw, Vice President at Coffee Beanery, Ltd. working with the Genesee Regional Chamber has been a great help to his company.

“We’ve been in the export business for over a decade now and we’re doing well,” says Shaw. “However, once we started working with the Genesee Regional Chamber, the process was a lot smoother. They have good expertise; they are very helpful and well educated on the business of exporting. It’s nice to work with an organization that is committed as we are.”

Businesses interested in assistance with their exporting needs should contact Janice Karcher at 810-600-1429.

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