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Sunday, November 23, 2014

MI-SBTDC offers counseling on export opportunities

For six years Ron Stevens has helped small business owners and entrepreneurs set up or fine-tune their companies. As they expand into other countries they are taking advantage of a new service Stevens provides through the Michigan Small Business & Technology Development Center—export capabilities counseling.

“It’s a new initiative under the Michigan Economic Development Corporation State Trade and Export Promotion program,” said Stevens, a full-time consultant with the statewide organization located at WCC. “Eligible companies can now qualify for up to $12,000 in assistance through the Michigan Economic Development Corporation. MEDC turned to us to help guide the businesses through the application process.”

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, Michigan ranks 9th in small- and medium-enterprise exports. Stevens is one of a handful of people in the state trained to assist clients, at no cost, who are interested in launching or growing export operations in Michigan.

One of the tools he uses is export mapping. First the business owner identifies the country or region for growth. Stevens then reviews the product or service and works with the owner to determine the infrastructure costs and profitability. From this analysis they decide whether or not an export relationship is feasible and profitable.

Stevens emphasizes that every country of interest should have a different business plan because each is a unique market.

“There are so many different costs involved, like VAT (value added taxes) and tariffs, to name a few,” said Stevens. “You have to consider all of that to decide whether or not it is worth exporting elsewhere. Then there’s the question of how you get it there. What are the costs of doing that? Who is responsible for what at each end of the transaction? Do you build it here and ship it? Do you set up production over there? There are costs involved at all these levels that have to be identified and considered.”

The Michigan Small Business & Technology Development Center Greater Washtenaw region, which is sponsored by WCC, represents Hillsdale, Lenawee, Washtenaw, Livingston, Jackson, and Monroe counties. Since Stevens is one of only a handful of counselors certified to advise business owners on export capabilities, he is accepting appointments from business owners throughout southeast Michigan.

To schedule an appointment, call 734-477-8762 or email sbtdc@wccnet.edu.

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