Summit aims to boost small business exports

Contact: Tonya Lowentritt


     HAMMOND The Louisiana Small Business Development Center at Southeastern Louisiana University, in collaboration with Louisiana Economic Development (LED), is hosting the Step Up to Exporting Summit to connect small businesses with resources and expertise that can help them enter new markets and increase revenues from exports.
     Intended for new-to-export businesses, the free summit will take place in Hammond on Thursday, March 22, from 8 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., at the Small Business Development Center, 1514 Martens Drive. The summit will instruct participants in the basics of doing business in international marketing and finding answers to commonly asked exporting questions, said LSBDC State Director Mary Lynn Wilkerson.
     “Our goal is to increase the number of small business exporters,” Wilkerson said. “There is strong recognition and demand for Louisiana products abroad. It’s important for our small businesses to take advantage of the opportunities presented in the global market place.”
     Officials from federal, state, and local agencies will discuss the basics of exporting, including marketing, financing and shipping. Louisiana Economic Development will also introduce the latest export incentive programs including the State Trade and Export Promotion Program (STEP). The program is designed to increase the number of small exporting businesses and to raise the value of exports for businesses that are currently exporting. On-site registration for the STEP program will be available for businesses ready to expand into new markets.
     Local business owners who have successfully utilized state and federal resources to expand into new markets will share their stories of how exporting has helped grow their business, Wilkerson said.
     Attendees will have an opportunity to meet one-on-one with representatives from Louisiana Economic Development, U.S. Small Business Administration, U.S. Department of Commerce, U.S. Export-Import Bank, Southern United States Trade Association and Louisiana Small Business Development Center. An international trade attorney and freight forwarder will also be available for individual assistance.
     “Through no-cost confidential counseling, the LSBDC can help new-to-export businesses become ‘export ready,’” Wilkerson said. “Services are also available for experienced exporters interested in pursuing new opportunities. LSBDC International Trade assistance includes assessing export readiness, developing an export strategy, financial planning, identifying available programs and resources, and international risk management planning.”
     The event is open to all small businesses. To register or for more information, visit, or call 985-549-3831. Light refreshments will be served.
In 2011, the LSBDC served 12,000 small businesses creating 1,238 new jobs, 186 new businesses, $127 million in capital, and $48 million in new sales.

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