What does a long-established global manufacturer of specialty and technical fabrics have in common with a 10-year-old company that makes fabric that delivers medications via gloves, socks, and sleeves?
They’re both among the more than 600 diverse businesses that turn to the Economic Development Partnership of North Carolina (EDPNC) each year for free help in selling their products to buyers around the world.
“Each EDPNC trade manager specializes in specific industries ― ranging from textiles and furniture to aviation and automotive to IT and biotech,” said Glenn Jackman, EDPNC trade manager serving textile businesses.
“Our entire team is dedicated to helping North Carolina manufacturers and service providers of all stripes either begin exporting for the first time or develop new international markets. Over the past year, we have stressed some new ways to help exporters navigate the challenges of a worldwide pandemic.”
Founded in 1880, Glen Raven Inc., in Glen Raven, N.C., is a global provider of performance fabrics and brands including Sunbrella. Its products serve the shading, upholstery, marine, automotive, and other industries. The company has exhibited with the EDPNC at targeted trade shows in Mexico, the United Arab Emirates, and other locations.
“Over the last 140 years we’ve emerged as a global player now selling into more than 100 countries,” Leib Oehmig, president and CEO, said earlier this year when accepting a North Carolina Governor’s Export Award. “And Glenn Jackman and the team at EDPNC have been instrumental in us being able to achieve those goals.”
Nufabrx in Conover, N.C., uses a patented technology to embed medications into fabrics for socks, compression sleeves, workout clothing and gloves, enabling controlled release of pain-easing treatments. When COVID-19 hit, the company began producing an antimicrobial, copper-infused face mask. In recent years, Nufabrx has exhibited in EDPNC-funded booths at trade shows in the United Arab Emirates and Chile.
“EDPNC has been a tremendous resource for us to grow our business beyond our local NC markets,” said Jordan Schindler, founder and CEO of Nufabrx. “It’s truly a no-risk way to expand your business.”
A Full Menu of Export Services
The EDPNC trade team, which supports exporters on the state’s behalf, includes North Carolina-based managers as well as six foreign-office locations. The free services they deliver include:
- Advocacy. Helping businesses navigate government restrictions and complex trade regulations.
- Market intelligence. Assessing the market climate of export destination countries, including economic, social, and political data.
- Product review. Examining product standards required for entering specific markets and looking at competitors in those markets.
- Distributor and buyer introductions. Connecting businesses with vetted international distributors, resellers, and prospective buyers.
- Trade show assistance. Identifying the best trade shows to help a business enter new markets and offering exporters the opportunity to affordably exhibit with the EDPNC.
- Market recommendations and market entry strategies. Recommending potential markets for a business product or service and determining the best ways to approach new markets.
- Pricing evaluation. Helping businesses set pricing that makes their product profitable in specific markets.
- Export education. Providing workshops that help businesses comply with U.S. export control laws and understand trade topics.
- Export finance assistance. Connecting companies to export finance and risk-mitigation programs of the Export-Import Bank of the United States, the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA), and other trade-financing organizations.
Grants to Support Global Websites and More
When COVID-19 shut down international business travel and in-person tradeshows, the EDPNC quickly emphasized ways to help businesses generate global sales online. That included expanding EDPNC’s website globalization program.
The program helps small businesses (those with fewer than 500 employees) translate their website into the languages of their targeted international markets as well as set up local domain hosting and search engine optimization of those sites. A $10,000 federal grant is available to support the work.
The website globalization grants are provided through the SBA’s State Trade Expansion Program (STEP). But EDPNC-administered STEP grants also help exporters with so much more.
STEP can also provide small-business exporters up to $5,000 toward the cost of a booth at an in-person or virtual trade show; up to $3,000 to offset flight and lodging costs associated with international trade shows or missions; and up to $6,000 for activities such as foreign-language translation of marketing material, digital ads in other countries, or participation in U.S. Commercial Service programs such as Gold Key Service. Gold Key provides companies appointments with pre-screened potential distributors and business partners overseas.
To learn more about how to take advantage of EDPNC trade support services, visit edpnc.com/export.