Va. network unveils export program for small businesses
“Passport to Global Markets,” a new program that trains companies to sell their products or services internationally, is accepting applications from Virginia small businesses.
The 10-week program, offered by the Virginia Small Business Development Centers network, recently selected its first participant, Ashland cheesecake company Daystar Desserts.
“Broadly speaking, I’m looking for firms that are established and are already successfully selling their products or services domestically,” said Aaron Miller, the network’s new international trade specialist. “The goal is to get a company to a point where they’re ready to be turned over to one of our exporting partners” for a trade visit abroad.
Partner agencies include the U.S. Commercial Service, Virginia Economic Development Partnership, the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services and local SBDCs across the commonwealth.
Participants will receive one-on-one counseling, assistance with developing a detailed export plan and other training designed to help them begin or expand their international sales. They also will meet successful exporters and trade experts in financing, shipping, marketing and other areas.
Richard Lane, COO of Daystar Desserts, says the Passport program will help his company expand current exporting efforts.
"International or export is just another channel for Daystar to sell its product," he wrote in an email to the Small Business Navigation Program. "Currently, we sell to the supermarket , club stores and food service channels in the U.S., Canada and Puerto Rico. Being located close to the East Coast, we felt like export is a logical next step.
"We are looking for guidance and contacts to help us capitalize international markets. We want to avoid pitfalls that you encounter when you are unfamiliar with a new channel."
The program, which costs $250 for the selected companies, currently has a flexible start date. For now, businesses will begin their individual training as they are chosen. Miller will tailor the program for each business, but most will be required to visit the network’s Fairfax office for three nonconsecutive days of in-house training, to be scheduled throughout the 10-week period.
“Passport to Global Markets” is funded by a $200,000 grant from the U.S. Small Business Administration. To apply, contact Miller at 703-277-7715 or email@example.com.
The network’s website will post information on the program in the next week or two.