The Wisconsin Economic Development Corp. is focused on helping to grow the state’s exports—both through the support it provides to companies and by working to create a culture of exporting within the state, so that all Wisconsin businesses understand they need to be thinking globally with their strategies for sales and growth.
The ExporTech Program, offered by the Wisconsin Manufacturing Extension Partnership with support from WEDC, guides companies in identifying the most promising export markets for their products and developing a strategy for entering those markets. Companies can then receive further assistance in executing that export strategy: WEDC’s global trade ventures (offered at a subsidized rate) provide in-country experiences and matchmaking with local partners, along with market intelligence offered by Wisconsin’s authorized trade representatives, a global network that covers 79 countries in all.[caption id="attachment_138313" align="alignright" width="150"] Sinnott[/caption]
Companies can also receive financial support for executing their export strategies through WEDC’s Global Business Development Grant Program. And for the first time this year, this grant program has been integrated with ExporTech so companies that have completed the export readiness program qualify for a larger grant amount.
In addition, the Milwaukee region was selected for participation in the Global Cities Initiative, a joint project of the Brookings Institution and JPMorgan Chase. Through this initiative, expertise from the renowned think tank—as well as ideas from the other metro areas participating in the initiative—will be applied in the Milwaukee area, and ultimately applied throughout the state, by the network of WEDC and its partners.
Already, participation in the initiative has prompted WEDC and the Milwaukee 7 regional economic development organization to begin developing and implementing a proactive strategy to attract foreign direct investment, which boosts the economy when local suppliers benefit from the export pathways already established by the foreign companies making the investment.
In a recent survey, only 41 percent of Milwaukee-area CEOs saw global engagement as crucial to the region’s economy. WEDC and its partners would like to see that number approach 100 percent as the realization spreads that companies must look beyond Wisconsin and the U.S. for the demand and the customer base to sustain their businesses’ growth. The growth of exports and the growth of FDI are complementary trends that reinforce one another for economic growth and Wisconsin’s integration in the global economy, and WEDC is working actively on both for the benefit of Wisconsin’s citizens.
-Katy Sinnott is vice president of international business development for the Wisconsin Economic Development Corp.