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DOC Launches New International Trade Initiative

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The Maryland Department of Commerce (DOC) has launched a new international initiative aimed at boosting exporting by Maryland companies. The Maryland Partners in International Trade (MAPIT) program will bring together key partners from local, state and federal government and academia to raise awareness of existing export promotion programs; facilitate greater access and usage of the state’s ExportMD grant and FlexEx programs; and build new, collaborative, globally-focused programs.

“Last year, Maryland had record exports totaling $12.2 billion, and this new program will only help to grow the state’s international footprint,” said Gov. Larry Hogan. “This means more jobs and more opportunities for Marylanders and Maryland businesses.”

“As our economy becomes more competitive, it is critical to connect our businesses with every opportunity to engage in global trade,” said DOC Secretary Mike Gill. “Between the programs offered at the local, state and federal level, as well as those offered by key stakeholders, Maryland has a wealth of international trade resources. This program will bring all those resources together and help ease the process for businesses who want to market products and services overseas.”

Get With the Program

As part of the initiative, DOC will provide training on existing export promotion programs to county economic development agencies and strategic partners, assist with developing marketing campaigns and host at least one export resource seminar in each county to connect with potential exporters. The initiative also seeks to link Maryland companies with export opportunities they may not be aware of and work to increase participation in overseas trade shows.

Among the initial partners in this initiative is the Center for International Business Education and Research (CIBER) at the Robert H. Smith School of Business at the University of Maryland College Park, which will offer Maryland companies access to research, student talent and executive training to help them succeed in the global marketplace.

Through the Smith School MBA Global Consulting Practicum, Maryland exporters can work with a team of the school’s MBA students to discuss challenges their company is facing in international business. The businesses will receive customized consulting assistance, and the students will have an opportunity to apply the skills and knowledge learned in the classroom to real-world challenges.

“One of the main goals of CIBER is to promote the capacity of U.S. businesses to succeed in the global marketplace. For us at the Smith School, this means Maryland businesses,” said Managing Director of CIBER at the Smith School Rebecca Bellinger. “This partnership with Maryland Commerce will not only benefit the students and companies that will work together, but ultimately the Maryland economy as well. Our student talent is prepared to support local businesses with their plans to expand in international markets and ready to make an impact.”

According to William Cole, the story of international trade in Maryland is one of untapped potential. “As the recent market assessment by the Global Cities Initiative indicated a disparity between Baltimore area’s export value [versus] actual exports, the region has a tremendous opportunity to expand global trade,” said the president and CEO of the Baltimore Development Corp. “MAPIT’s goal to increase awareness about this economic potential and connect businesses to global export opportunities and programs will help close that gap.”

Globally, Locally

Larry Twele, CEO of the Howard County Economic Development Authority, said that the effort will build on Maryland’s strengths.

“In Howard County, we have identified the trade and [Foreign Direct Investment] markets as an opportunity for growth to help expand and attract companies, which is why we have added to our business development team to focus in this area. The MAPIT program is exactly what is needed to support efforts at the local level,” he said.

Established in 1999, the ExportMD program provides matching grants that are capped at $5,000, as well as up to 40 hours of marketing consulting from the DOC’s Office of International Investment and Trade (IIT). Earlier this year, the department was awarded a $518,413 State Trade and Export Promotion (STEP) grant from the U.S. Small Business Administration to help fund the ExportMD program. This is the third year the state has received a STEP grant, having previously received the award in fiscal 2012 and fiscal 2013.

Within the DOC, IIT works to stimulate foreign direct investment in the state, offers export assistance for small and mid-sized Maryland companies and coordinates international trade and investment missions and trade show opportunities for Maryland companies.

The state also maintains a network of nine foreign trade offices overseas, including China (Shanghai), Taiwan (Taipei), Africa (Nigeria), Mexico (Mexico City), Brazil (Sao Paulo), France (Paris), Israel (Tel Aviv), India (Delhi) and the United Arab Emirates (Dubai). For more information on resources available to businesses that want to market their products or services globally, visit http://commerce.maryland.gov.