US officials explain financing options to potential exporters

By Burton Speakman


With the federal government seeking to increase exports, more financing options are available for business owners to sell products internationally.

Government officials charged with helping businesses get the money they need to export spoke to a full room Wednesday at Kent State University at Salem. The event was organized by the Northeast Ohio Trade & Economic Consortium and designed to inform companies of all the government programs available for export assistance.

The point of these events is to teach business owners what they need to know to sell to international buyers, said John Senese, vice president of international operations for Global Trade Group. The trade group is government-subsidized and provides individual instruction for companies seeking to export.

“The entire goal is to help you make money,” he said.

Less than 1 percent of U.S. companies export their products, said Ryan Sansom, a counselor for the Ohio International Trade Assistance Center. A number of programs are available to help companies manage the complexities of selling overseas.

“You have to commit time and resources into [exporting]. It’s not something that just happens,” he said. “I recommend that companies start with Canada. It’s the easiest for compliance to meet regulations.”

Small businesses need cash to sell internationally, and there are not a lot of options in the traditional banking models, said Mark Klein, business development officer at the Export-Import Bank of the U.S., which helps banks make loans to business for exports, insure international sales and extend credit to foreign buyers.

“If you’re going to export, you’re going to need capital,” he said.

It’s important that American companies are able to offer the same types of financing options available from foreign competitors, said Patrick Hayes, regional manager for the U.S. Small Business Administration in Cleveland. Most European companies offer their buyers 90-120 days to pay for products. SBA and the Export-Import Bank offer programs that allow domestic business to offer those payment options.

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