Coming Together to Grow 9/9/14 Article

9 Sep 2014

Coming Together to Grow, by Lisa Hurley, York County Development Corporation

As I start this article, I want you to think of a couple of questions.  First, did you know York County already exports over $1 billion in sales annually out of the County?  Did you know that we export to Canada more than any other nation?  Now, take a minute and think about what our local economy would look like if those sales increased. What if our businesses had assistance reaching new markets? What if they had assistance with the regulations or even understanding culture differences?  I would venture to say increased sales would result in job growth from our local businesses and below will show some support that is being offered. 

One of the most exciting aspects of my job is to share what we have here with the right people.  Case in point, I’ve been working with Cobus Block.  He is the International Development Assistant Manager with the Nebraska Department of Economic Development (DED).  He assists Nebraska companies with contracts and contacts with international markets.  DED regularly attends trade missions overseas to open up new markets for Nebraska products, and has two overseas trade offices.  Lately Cobus has been focusing on Agri-related equipment manufacturers and companies, because DED has seen an uptick in the number of request from oversees for these products.  That’s where we come in.  York County is one of the most productive agricultural counties in Nebraska both in actual crops and technology.

Cobus and I identified ten local businesses whose equipment manufacturing or technology fit within the parameters of what DED is looking for. After phone conversations with the businesses, I identified the majority were interested in foreign markets, but a couple were not available in August (we’ll catch later this year).  The next step was business visits, so Cobus could see first-hand what is available from York County businesses.  Business were able to share what they are doing with us, if they were doing an international trade already, or if they have had possibilities in the past, and what challenges they had in these markets. 

This will be very crucial as he and the rest of the International DED team are visiting with potential customers.  These efforts now allow DED to serve as an initial bridge to foreign companies, search for particular opportunities for cooperation, and help our York County businesses understand the regulations and paperwork.  It will also allow DED to incorporate York County products into marketing materials being used overseas.

I found several of our businesses while not already doing international trade, either have already been approached by a potential customer, or have an idea of a market where their product could be successful.  One already is doing a large amount of trade, but was able to share their experiences, and identify an assistance possibility.  By providing the resources they need, their sales will diversify and their business will be stronger. 

Things like this don’t happen overnight and it may be awhile before we see any results from our visits, but at the very least DED now knows what we have to offer International markets.  I love knowing that YCDC/DED efforts will result in growth. 

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