The Upstate is gaining traction on the federal level when it comes to the global markets’ economy.
Arun Venkataraman, assistant secretary of commerce for global markets and director general of the U.S. and foreign commercial service with the U.S. Department of Commerce, made the visit to Greer on Tuesday to lead the Building Bridges to Global Markets export promotion event.
Building Bridges to Global Markets, hosted by the International Trade Administration’s U.S. and Foreign Commercial Service, provides free in-person exporting expertise to the Greer community and encourages small and medium-sized enterprises to consider global markets as part of their business strategy.
Exports are essential to building a robust, dynamic, and equitable economy, said Venkataraman. The data is clear, he said. Businesses that export generally earn higher revenues, create more jobs, pay better wages, and are less likely to go out of business, he added.
“When U.S. companies are successful in exporting to global markets, it not only makes them more competitive and boosts their bottom line, but directly impacts the economic growth and opportunities in their communities,” said Venkataraman.
South Carolina has continued to make exports a priority. In 2022, export sales increased 6% from 2021, reaching a total of $31.5 billion, he said.
As more U.S. businesses look to foreign markets, where 95% of consumers live, Venkataraman’s priority is not only to grow exports but also to expand the pool of exporters.
‘You represent the best of our country’
The Building Bridges to Global Markets program is part of the U.S. Commercial Service’s Global Diversity Export Initiative. The program addresses issues most common to diverse businesses seeking international sales expansion, introduces reliable contacts, offers the most up-to-date information and ready-to-use resources to set businesses of any size and from all communities on the road to exporting success.
Venkataraman said he continues to hear how dynamic and dominative the Upstate region is in commerce and how transformative it has been over the past 25 years.
“The ingenuity, the innovation that you are bring, it does sell itself,” he added. “You represent the best of our country. When I go overseas, it is so easy to push the goods and services you all offer. And we compete to win.”
On the federal level, Venkataraman said they are passionate about promoting such a program in South Carolina because they know there are communities full of innovation and entrepreneurship that have a lot to contribute by selling their goods and services globally.
“We know companies overseas want the best the global economy has to offer and that means being made in the United States,” he said. “We’ve seen the entrepreneurship in this state, we’ve seen how it contributes to attracting investments here and building on the world-class partnership between government, education, and business.
"So, we really want to harness those talents and help Americans export overseas while making money overseas.”
A proven track record of success
The Global Diversity Export Initiative helps U.S. companies increase exports and succeed in markets on a global scale. Services include export counseling, market intelligence, business matchmaking, and commercial diplomacy.
What’s unique about the Upstate is its tried and tested platform, said Venkataraman, a proven track record of successful entrepreneurs.
“Once you’ve already been a part of contributing to sales to world-class institutions like BMW you can sell anywhere in the world, because companies like BMW only expect the highest standards,” he added. “So, if you’re servicing them already, you can service anyone in the world.”
What’s important is the evident concerted effort to make sure all the moving parts, such as the federal government working with the state government, and the state government working with the local government, and working with local businesses and educational institutions to not only make sales to boost the economy but to have a skilled workforce to attract investments and the expansion of those investments, Venkataraman said.
“It’s not enough to just put resources on our website,” he said. “We are going around the country, to communities who may not be plugged into those resources to spread awareness and how they can be helped as they expand their businesses beyond the United States. Our hope is that businesses have the opportunity to sell to global markets the same way they would here.”
Take advantage of the opportunities you have now, said South Carolina District Export Council Chairman Cherod Webber.
“You don’t have to wait to export,” Webber said.
The U.S. Commercial Service is the trade promotion arm of the International Trade Administration at the U.S. Department of Commerce. Its network includes more than 100 offices across the U.S. and in American embassies and consulates in more than 80 international markets.