Workshops throughout Region Aimed at Exporting Products and Services

Eastern Kentucky University has partnered with the World Trade Center Kentucky along with targeted business and governmental agencies to present a series of workshops aimed at helping central and southeastern Kentucky business owners and entrepreneurs realize the potential in exporting their products and services.

The Kentucky Export Initiative (KEI) Export Education Series workshops, beginning in September and running through March 2014, will be held in Corbin, Richmond and Hazard. Additionally, an intensive three-day Trade Certification program is scheduled for May 20-22 in Corbin.

“As economic development and business growth has become more global, many Kentucky businesses can increase their sales and profits by learning more about and engaging in international exporting opportunities,” said Dr. Bob Rogow, dean of EKU’s College of Business and Technology, one of the sponsors. “(This series) will provide business owners the information they need to successfully begin or expand their exporting activities. Kentucky is poised to further increase its exporting potential and the export education series will help business owners learn what they need to know to grow through exporting their products and services internationally.”

Other sponsors of the series are the Center for Economic Development, Entrepreneurship and Technology (CEDET) at EKU, the World Trade Center Kentucky, Kentucky Export Initiative, East Kentucky Concentrated Employment Program (EKCEP), Kentucky Association of Economic Development, Kentucky Association of Manufacturers, Corbin Economic Development, U.S. Commercial Service, Advantage Kentucky Alliance, Kentucky Innovation Network, and Kentucky Small Business Development Centers, in addition to various other local partners.

The opening workshop in the series, titled “Why Export?” will be held Sept. 17-19, 11 a.m.-1:30 p.m. That will be followed by Export 101, Nov. 5-7, 8 a.m.-noon; Export Marketing Plan, Jan. 21-23, 8 a.m.-noon; and Logistics, March 18-20, 8 a.m.-noon. For each three-day sequence, the sites are, in order, the Corbin Center for Technology and Community Activities (222 Corbin Center Drive), Central Bank in downtown Richmond, and the Perry County Job Site in Hazard. The three-day Trade Certification Program will be held from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. daily.

The Commonwealth is already reaping the benefits of exporting. According to Brad Thomas of the Kentucky Cabinet for Economic Development, Kentucky’s exports to 199 countries reached $22.1 billion in 2012, generating $832 million in state and local taxes and increasing 10 percent in both 2011 and 2012. So far in 2013, exports are up 12.6 percent.

The small businesses that dominate southeastern Kentucky are poised to join in the trend. In fact, Thomas noted, 80 percent of the approximately 3,300 companies that reported exports in 2012 were small- and medium-size enterprises. Those firms accounted for nearly 20 percent of Kentucky’s total exports.

“Kentucky is seeing great growth in exports,” Thomas said, “as the export-focused organizations in the state have come together under Governor Steve Beshear’s Kentucky Export Initiative to work cooperatively to get the word out about the benefits of exporting.”

Beshear created the KEI to bring together agencies and organizations to help facilitate international trade opportunities for Kentucky businesses, increase exports, and create diversified markets and job growth. KEI partners include the Kentucky Cabinet for Economic Development, World Trade Center Kentucky, Kentucky Association of Manufacturers, Kentucky Chamber of Commerce, Bluegrass Economic Advancement Movement, Kentucky Association of Economic Development, Kentucky Small Business Development Center, U.S. Commercial Service, and the Northern Kentucky International Trade Association.

Sherry Mulkins, business and marketing manager with World Trade Center Kentucky, said the Center “has long envisioned the opportunity to work for and support the business efforts of the Southern Kentucky region. Through EKU’s vision, the Center will be working for the first time in concert with the University along with business and government leadership. This will create awareness and promote the value of international trade for Kentucky. It is our goal that those businesses and professionals who participate in this program will leave with a better understanding of trade and how to use that knowledge to grow their business.”

Bruce Carpenter, executive director of the Corbin Economic Development Agency, Southern Kentucky Chamber of Commerce, said he hopes the export initiative “will encourage our communities to increase their knowledge and participation in regionalization and globalization. Foreign markets are diverse, which increases opportunities. This program will allow businesses to encounter different and new ideas, marketing techniques and employment growth they may not otherwise be exposed to on a local level.”

Carpenter added that the World Trade Center Kentucky, CEDET and EKU “have been invaluable with their assistance and support. They remain accessible and instrumental in providing information, answering questions and initiating continual education about exporting.”

The bottom line, said CEDET Executive Director Ian Mooers, is job creation throughout the region. In fact, one in every five workers in manufacturing companies depends on exports for their jobs, and companies that export typically pay higher wages than non-exporting companies.

Mooers, who also serves as director of EKU’s Center for Appalachian Regional Engagement and Stewardship (CARES), added that CEDET is seeking funds to establish its own export education center at EKU.

Count Jeff Whitehead, executive director of EKCEP, among those “thrilled to see this training series come to businesses in Eastern Kentucky. We hope that its impact will be new career opportunities for our workers, expanded markets for our employers, and greater diversity for our region’s economy.”

To see a complete schedule of the Export Education Series, descriptions of each workshop and registration costs and information, visit wtcky.org. The deadline for each workshop will be the Friday before the event.

Published on August 13, 2013