Whether your company has been exporting for years or is just starting to dip its toe into the international market, you’re bound to have questions about the intricacies of selling your goods and services abroad.
Business representatives who attended the 53rd annual Wisconsin International Trade Conference, held in Milwaukee on May 11, had the opportunity to get those questions answered at the event’s first-ever “Export Café,” which featured discussions on topics such as international law, export support programs and international marketing.
When the morning event began, the nearly 100 participants gathered at the Wisconsin Center were able to choose three topics in succession, rotating among tables for subsequent roundtable discussions, with plenty of time for Q&A.
Katy Sinnott, vice president of international business development for the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC), said the Export Café was designed as an alternative to the usual format for such conferences. Rather than have 100 people listen together to the same speaker, the café provided a unique opportunity for participants to receive personalized advice from a diverse group of exporting experts.
“What we heard from attendees in previous years is that they really wanted to have some up-close time with the service providers who can help them understand how to export better,” Sinnott said. “So, we brought in different Wisconsin extended export partners from the federal and state governments and the private sector who are supporting companies that export. There’s a great deal of personalization and probably more depth than you would typically get.”
At one of the tables were Wisconsin Lt. Governor Rebecca Kleefisch and Roxanne Baumann, director of global engagement for the Wisconsin Manufacturing Extension Partnership. The two touted the ExporTech™ Program, a training class designed to help companies develop and execute a targeted export strategy.
“The lieutenant governor’s passion for helping Wisconsin’s manufacturers grow their revenues and jobs through exporting was evident at the Export Café,” Baumann said. “Participants learned how proactive, strategic export planning can really short cut the path to export revenues and reduce the risks of reactive exporting.”
Other tables featured Koreen Grube, acting director of the U.S. Commercial Service office in Milwaukee, who led a discussion on finding and vetting distributors; attorney Jennifer Jin, who provided guidance on best practices for international agreements; and Jazmine Jurkiewicz, trade development representative for the Port of Milwaukee.
“The Export Café provided a great opportunity for trade professionals to share their experiences and best practices when engaging in international trade,” said Jin, an attorney who specializes in international trade and taxation and was just named WEDC’s chief legal officer. “Participants were able to self-select and participate in roundtable discussions that included topics such as international business development strategies, international marketing tools, international financing and tax opportunities, and international legal considerations.”
As she looked over the packed conference room, Sinnott said she wasn’t sure how the event would be received since it was the first time the café was part of the annual trade conference.
“I’m very happy with the attendance,” she said with a smile. “Every table is full, so that’s good news.”