With the local economy struggling, many businesses in Michigan have turned to international exporting as a source for new markets.  The state’s total exports for 2010 reached $44.5 billion, a 36.3% increase over 2009.  Rick Haglund recently posted a column on Ann about the work that trade specialists such as Patrick McRae of the United States Commercial Service and workers at Michigan State University’s International Business Center (CIBER) are doing to support globalization efforts of small and medium-sized local businesses. 

Faculty members and student researchers on Michigan State’s campus provide free market research to select global markets appropriate and viable for locally manufactured products.  Once specific markets have been targeted, clients are handed off to the U.S. Commercial Service for assistance with travel arrangements and development of global partnerships.  This two-tiered approach has proven to be highly effective for over 40 local businesses.

MSU CIBER, located on the ground floor of the Eli Broad College of Business, has assisted nearby Lansing’s Capital City Airport to obtain Foreign Trade Zone designation.  This allows local businesses to import parts duty-free before processing them into final products and sending them abroad.

Perhaps more notable than the aggregate increase in exports from Michigan is the growing diversity of international trade.  While the automotive industry still manufactures half of the state’s exports, consumer foods and medical chair components also make up significant percentages of global business.  The state has nearly doubled exports to China over the past year, surpassing Germany as the third largest trading partner (behind Canada and Mexico) of Michigan businesses.

In a state from which manufacturers are constantly seeking new business opportunities, going global is a very viable option.  With only 1% of United States companies currently exporting, there is an enormous opportunity for growth in that area.  Resources such as MSU CIBER and the U.S. Commercial Service are invaluable partners for businesses seeking to integrate international trade into their business strategies.

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