Starting and owning a manufacturing business is no small feat, especially after 2020. Even an established business who is ready to expand into international markets may find it challenging to know where to begin. Through the Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC)’s International Trade program, businesses can tap into a wealth of resources and support to expand into foreign markets and export products around the world, all while continuing to grow and prosper in Michigan.
With international trade offices covering more than 90 markets, MEDC’s International Trade program offers businesses support in identifying and pursuing global market opportunities. Through this program, businesses have access to experienced professionals and resources — such as financial assistance, counseling and market analysis — that can help promote their products and services around the world. As a result of this comprehensive support, Michigan businesses engaged with MEDC’s International Trade program have already reported more than $4 billion in facilitated export sales since the program began in 2012.
From trade missions and grant funding, to a network of technical service providers including legal professionals and website enhancement, the International Trade team offers solutions for businesses of all sizes seeking to grow and expand into new markets, all right from here in Michigan.
Consider, for example, the success of Laser Marking Technologies, which provides high-quality engineered solutions for manufacturers seeking automated laser marking equipment. In 2014, the company first reached out to the MEDC’s International Trade team hoping to grow its customer base outside of the U.S. — and since then, its success has been overwhelming.
By working with the International Trade team’s Michigan Mexico Center, Laser Marking Technologies was able to become prequalified for potential distributors in Mexico, which greatly enhanced their ability to compete in the Mexican market. The company also qualified for grant funding through the Michigan State Trade Expansion Program (MI-STEP), which enabled team members to participate in a series of international trade shows and develop an international social media campaign that grew the brand’s recognition in the Australian market.
“Working with the MEDC has been extremely easy, as they have provided needed guidance every step of the way. Transitioning into new foreign markets often reveals unexpected challenges with unfamiliar processes along with potential language barriers. Having the MEDC available as a resource for council and guidance, the process was far less daunting”, said Rick Weisbarth, President of Sales and Industrial Development.
Through the MI-STEP Program, eligible small businesses can receive up to 75% reimbursement for export activities, up to $15,000 annually. This includes activities involving international travel as well as non-travel activities, such as international marketing, compliance testing, website upgrades or design, sample product shipping, export trainings such as ExporTech, and U.S. Commercial Services offerings.
Today, Laser Marking Technologies exports its products around the world, including sales to Canada, Mexico, China, Australia, Brazil, Nicaragua and the Netherlands, with its annual export sales reaching $550,000 and its cumulative MEDC-facilitated sales marking $1.86 million.
Since 2012, the International Trade program has helped small and medium-sized businesses like Laser Marking Technologies diversify their customer base, stabilize sales and ultimately grow their business through exporting from Michigan. To highlight this success, MMA is partnering with MEDC to help manufacturers go global with the International Trade Program by hosting a virtual lunch and learn webinar series every two weeks beginning 6/29/21. Learn more about the MEDC’s International Trade team and support services your company may qualify for, including grant funding, tune into the five-part Michigan Roots, Global Reach Virtual Lunch & Learn Series taking place every two weeks until 8/10/21.
For more information about the International Trade Program and whether your business can qualify for funding and support, visit michiganbusiness.org/export or contact an International Trade Manager.