July 14, 2020

Ask the Experts

Growing Strong

| 4/22/2019

Florida is home to nearly 60,000 exporters — second highest number in the U.S. — and nearly all of them are small- and medium-sized businesses with fewer than 500 employees. Florida exporters here enjoy a multimodal system that ensures seamless movement of people and products between any two points on the planet as well as ready access to the nation’s second largest Foreign Trade Zone (FTZ) network.



I’d like to explore the possibility of becoming an exporter. Where do I go for help and what should I do first?

ABusinesses in Florida have a unique advantage over other states when it comes to exporting their products and services. With access to the state’s expansive infrastructure — including 15 deep-water ports and 20 commercial service airports — Florida businesses can reach their customers anywhere, anytime. And no other state provides access to the growing Latin American market like the Sunshine State.

If you are interested in expanding your business through trade, here are some steps you can take:

Evaluate your readiness for exporting with export counseling assistance or participate in educational seminars, conferences and webinars by contacting Enterprise Florida, U.S. Export Assistance Centers or a Florida SBDC office near you.

Create your export business plan and strategy by applying for an Export Marketing Plan through the Florida SBDC Network, Enterprise Florida or U.S. Export Assistance Centers.

Enter a new trade market and meet your buyers by attending international trade shows and missions with Enterprise Florida and the U.S. Commercial Service.

Take advantage of the USCS Gold Key Matchmaking Program during trade missions.

Work with one of Enterprise Florida’s 14 international offices in 13 countries.

Learn about funding programs for exporters of goods and services by contacting the Florida Export Finance Corporation and EXIM Bank.

Contact Enterprise Florida and the U.S. Export Assistance Center to learn about trade rules and agreements.

Get insight on intellectual property and copyright laws by contacting Enterprise Florida and the U.S. Export Assistance Center.

Answer provided by Manny Mencia
Senior Vice President, International Trade & Development, Enterprise Florida


International Trade Show Opportunities

Enterprise Florida’s international trade and development team organizes/hosts 20+ major trade shows and missions annually to help Florida businesses promote their products and services worldwide. One of the largest events — the annual MEDICA health care show in Düsseldorf — drew 142,000 visitors in 2018 and generated more than $143 million in actual and projected export sales for the 23 small and mid-sized businesses that exhibited in the Florida Pavilion. Another 26 Florida businesses made important contacts simply by attending the show.


Make it happen
Serious about becoming an exporter? Don’t go it alone; for best results, partner with:

U.S. Commercial Service With trade professionals in six Florida offices to help companies get started in exporting or increase sales to new global markets by identifying and evaluating international partners, creating market entry strategies and navigating documentation challenges. For general information on regulations, licensing, free trade agreements and other topics related to exporting, visit www.export.gov.

Florida SBDC Network In partnership with Enterprise Florida and the U.S. Commercial Service, Florida SBDC International Trade Specialists prepare Export Marketing Plans for qualifying Florida-based manufacturers and service providers. Approximately 100 hours is spent preparing each customized plan, which includes target market recommendations, overseas trade opportunities and an action plan for market entry. Each plan costs $4,000; qualifying companies are eligible for a $3,500 scholarship, bringing your company’s cost to $500.

Should I go global?
Questions to ask before you take the plunge:

1. Is my business ready? Complete the free “Exporter Assessment” at www.export.gov/article?id=New-Exporter-Assessment to determine if your small business truly is in a position to expand internationally.

2. Do I have a plan? Before jumping into uncharted waters, take some time to put your plans on paper. Assemble facts, identify constraints and set specific goals to ensure positive outcomes.

3. Have I done my homework? You wouldn’t take a foreign vacation without researching your destination, so why take your company overseas with no prior knowledge? Study up on markets, trade barriers, regulations and other exporting details specific to wherever you’re headed.

4. Where do I even start? If you know absolutely nothing about exporting, but would like to learn, a good place to start is at www.sba.gov/learning-center. Scroll down to “Grow Your Business,” then click on “Take Your Business Global” for an easy-to-understand introduction to exporting.

5. Where can I find help? Contact Florida SBDC or Enterprise Florida.

Tags: Florida Small Business, Ask the Experts

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