By: The Denver U.S. Export Assistance Center Staff with Jan Mazotti Issue: Collaborative Women Section:Jewel Of Collaboration
Partnering to Advance Exports
It’s March 22, 2010, and the Denver U.S. Export Assistance Center (USEAC) is in full gear. Today is President Obama’s rollout of the National Export Initiative, and Denver is the only city in the nation to host two Trade Promotion Coordinating Committee (TPCC) representatives: Ms. Leocadia Zak, Director of the U.S. Trade and Development Agency and Ms. Darci Vetter, Deputy Under Secretary for the Farm and Foreign Agricultural Service with the United States Department of Agriculture. It seems only fitting that a USEAC staffed with five female International Trade Specialists (ITS) would be hosting two high level female government officials to kick off this partnership that has a goal of doubling exports over the next five years. To arrange luncheons and business meetings for the visiting dignitaries, the USEAC staff turned to its many partners, coined by the staff as “our local TPCC”, to help coordinate the activities of the day. But this is only Monday, and the staff has a full week ahead of them.
ITS Martha Butwin is preparing for an incoming renewable energy delegation from Portugal and the Azores. “The Senior Commercial Officer at our post (Commercial Service office) in Lisbon approached me over a year ago about bringing a delegation of private and public sector industry leaders from Portugal to the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), and over time the event blossomed into a two day event combining two delegations from Portugal and the Azores archipelago.” The two day event could not have come to fruition without Butwin’s private TPCC, most of which are led by women. “I’ve been working with the renewable energy industry for four years now, and have come to know Sarah Barba of the Public Affairs Office at NREL very well. Sarah works closely with both the USEAC, an office of the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Commercial Service (CS), and the overseas post to put together top-notch customized programs for the visiting delegations. “ NREL’s Visitors Program has hosted more than 150 international visitors since the lab’s fiscal year started in October 2009. Butwin estimates that the USEAC works with NREL about four times a year on delegations led by Commercial Service offices, but NREL is not the only go-to group for renewable energy delegations. “CSU’s Engine and Energy Conversion Lab is running a close second when it comes to requests for visits from Commercial Service delegations.” Butwin works with the Engine Lab’s Wendy Hartzell to set up tours at the facility that is housed in the old Fort Collins power plant. CSU’s Engine Lab has given tours to over 1,500 people from almost every continent since the start of 2009, and has a high “geek factor” because nearly every engineer who walks through the door is a bit envious when told that some of the projects being developed there came about through CSU engineering students’ Senior Projects. “The Engine Lab is an engineer’s paradise,” Butwin muses.
The Colorado International Trade Office is a lean organization that relies on its partnerships with the U.S. Export Assistance Center, the World Trade Center, industry associations, chambers of commerce and other economic development groups in executing its mission to support Colorado exporters. - Pam Reichert
While NREL and the Engine Lab are the draws that bring the renewable energy delegations to Colorado, most delegations also want the opportunity to meet with local businesses to determine if there is a synergy of products that the visitors seek. Since this mission was on a tight timeframe which precluded extensive one-on-one business meetings, ITS Butwin turned to Shelly Curtiss, Communications Director of the Colorado Cleantech Industry Association (CCIA), to structure a Business Roundtable that included a networking event to bring local businesses to meet with the delegation members. CCIA is a non-partisan organization with 135 members that represent Colorado’s expansive cleantech sectors - including biofuels, geothermal, solar, wind, smart-grid, storage and transportation. Executive Director Chris Shapard states, “It is our mission to create a business climate that enables Colorado to lead the world in clean technology.” Although CCIA is not an international organization, it has formed partnerships with local international business organizations to promote exports among its member companies.
ITS Butwin’s renewable energy portfolio often overlaps with colleague Lana Lennberg‘s environmental industry coverage. Case in point is the Colorado Office of Economic Development and International Trade’s Market Development Cooperator Program grant that the State has received to promote sustainable product exports to Mexico and China. Pam Reichert, the Director of the Colorado International Trade Office (ITO) has assembled partnerships locally with the USEAC, the Colorado Association for Manufacturing and Technology (CAMT), the Colorado Cleantech Industry Association (CCIA), Connected Organizations for a Responsible Economy (CORE), the Denver Office of Economic Development and the World Trade Center Denver to promote the Colorado Export of Innovative and Sustainable Technologies (CO-Exist) program. The Colorado ITO created the program to support exports and business exchanges between Colorado companies, government, and industry leaders in the targeted area of sustainable and environmental technologies. The three-year program runs from January 2010 through December 2012 and includes outgoing trade missions to China and Mexico, incoming buyers groups from those countries and export counseling and technical assistance. The ITA funds will support trade show booths, travel, and funding for technical assistance. Reichert expressed that “The Colorado International Trade Office is a lean organization that relies on its partnerships with the U.S. Export Assistance Center, the World Trade Center, industry associations, chambers of commerce and other economic development groups in executing its mission to support Colorado exporters. The U.S. International Trade Administration’s Market Development Cooperator Program provides a framework for more formal programming and coordination with all of our partners.” Interested Colorado companies can access the application for the program at: http://www.colorado.gov/cs/Satellite?c=Page&cid=1165009699722&pagename=OEDIT%2FOEDITLayout
Although each ITS in the Denver USEAC has an industry portfolio that dictates many of her responsibilities, the group also works on outreach efforts throughout the states of Colorado and Wyoming. ITS Lana Lennberg has a long-term relationship with Julie Morey, Director of the Grand Junction Small Business Development Center. Morey states, “The synergistic relationship between the SBDC and the U.S. Export Assistance Center in Denver makes it possible to help western Colorado companies enter international markets much more quickly and efficiently than they could without access to trade specialists and their knowledge of international markets and industries. Trade specialists such as Lennberg have been willing to travel to Mesa County to meet with our businesses one-on-one or to assist the SBDC in providing export training to local businesses.”
The synergistic partnership between Jones and Marquez spurs a formidable business relationship to tackle the frustrating, yet rewarding, international trade issues company's face in the realm of exporting.
Senior ITS Selina Marquez’ primary industries include healthcare and processed foods. Marquez finds that sometimes her best business partners are also her clients. Debra Jones, COO of Magnolia Trading LLC is a shining example of a savvy women-owned company in the international arena. Magnolia Trading is an international distributor of premium food brands with exclusive partnerships with Earth Balance, Horizon Organic Dairy, International Delight Coffee Creamers, Silk Soymilk and others. With over 65 distributors worldwide Mrs. Jones shows commitment, skill, and creativity when dealing in overseas markets.
Marquez considers Magnolia Trading a collaborative partner verses a client. Marquez has worked with Magnolia on various issues from identifying appropriate government agencies for product registration to verifying regulatory requirements to import product for a given country, or working jointly to locate country labeling requirements. The synergistic partnership between Jones and Marquez spurs a formidable business relationship to tackle the frustrating, yet rewarding, international trade issues company’s face in the realm of exporting.
As the ITS covering the information technologies portfolio for the USEAC, Suzette Nickle has always been interested in the latest technology trends. After attending a session on social media and international marketing at Johnson & Wales University’s Global Professional Forum, she envisioned how what she learned that day could benefit not only Colorado exporters, but exporters across the country. She immediately engaged the speaker, Rosie Branstetter, Principal at Fiveseed, a Denver-based strategic consulting firm specializing in brand development and integrated marketing for start-ups, nonprofits, and socially responsible companies throughout the United States. Nickle emphasized that she, “Recognized this as an opportunity to work with Rosie to develop a series of interactive webinars to educate businesses on how to implement a sustainable international social media strategy,” a strategy that Nickle and her colleagues believe most of their clients would like to see further developed. Together, Nickle and Branstetter have introduced an initiative to research international social media trends, develop leading-edge instructional content, and deliver engaging presentations. This custom-designed webinar series will provide businesses with a deep understanding of the trends and opportunities to integrate social media into a broader international marketing plan. Session topics will include Social Media 101 and Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn for International Marketing. The program will be offered beginning in Summer 2010.
While incoming buying delegations and social media outreach are key in moving local companies forward in their exporting endeavors, it is paramount that U.S. companies travel to foreign markets to develop relationships. In the air traffic arena, Denver USEAC Aerospace ITS Danielle Dooley can attest that collaboration is key for Ms. Laura Jackson, Air Service Specialist at Denver International Airport (DIA). In addition to her role as the Senior Director of Research and Planning for the airport, Jackson is at the helm of an airport-, city- and state-wide effort to launch Denver’s first nonstop flight to Asia.
The Ascent to Asia campaign was launched in 2008 to capture the power of DIA, The Metro Denver Economic Development Corporation, State of Colorado, World Trade Center Denver, Japan Consulate in Denver, Japan America Society and multiple key executives in Colorado who have made it their goal to land the Denver-Tokyo nonstop flight. Tokyo will be Denver’s gateway city and will allow passengers to connect to destinations across Asia.
Jackson coordinates the efforts of key business and government leaders across the Denver Metro area, as well as the airport’s marketing efforts in Tokyo, where a considerable marketing strategy is under way. This is where Jackson has tapped the expertise of the U.S. Commercial Service. ITS Dooley and Commercial Officer Helen Peterson (CS Tokyo) work with Jackson to provide in-country support for DIA’s marketing efforts. To date, there have been three Colorado-Japan trade missions including support from the U.S. Commercial Service in Tokyo, receptions and networking opportunities, all of which play into the outstanding collaboration orchestrated by Jackson and the Ascent to Asia Committee at large. Success for the committee, and for local exporters intent on selling into Asian markets, will see a nonstop Denver- Tokyo flight taking off from DIA in the near future!
While incoming buying delegations and social media outreach are key in moving local companies forward in their exporting endeavors, it is paramount that U.S. companies travel to foreign markets to develop relationships.
At the end of the day, two successful export outreach events have been delivered, and a week’s worth of activities have been outlined. The five Denver USEAC International Trade Specialists - with over 65 years of international trade work between them - have come together on this Monday in March to celebrate this landmark initiative. Yet the mission of the U.S. Commercial Service remains unchanged: to promote economic prosperity, enhance job creation, and strengthen national security through a global network of the best international trade professionals in the world. The Denver USEAC staff executes this mission with a plethora of talents among them coupled with a shared electronic rolodex of global partners.
The U.S. Commercial Service is located across the United States and in U.S. Embassies and Consulates in nearly 80 countries. Whether you’re looking to make your first export sale or expand to additional markets, turn to the Commercial Service for the expertise you need to connect with lucrative opportunities and increase your bottom line. To contact the Denver Commercial Service office, visit www.buyusa.gov/colorado or call 303-844-6623.