Oklahoma businesses look to expand reach worldwide with help from the Department of Commerce’s Global Division.
More than 70 percent of the world’s purchasing power is located outside the United States, according to the U.S. International Trade Administration, and the Oklahoma Department of Commerce works to make sure Oklahoma businesses are taking full advantage. The Department of Commerce’s Global Division provides Oklahoma businesses with a variety of market-entry services on the export side.
“We help Oklahoma companies to be able to do more international business, primarily through exporting,” says Jesse Garcia, global project manager, Oklahoma Department of Commerce. “It allows companies, basically, to look at a different perspective, in terms of being able to increase their bottom line by not just focusing on domestic projects but also international.”
In turn, more jobs will be created and more revenue will be brought to the state, Garcia adds.
Oklahoma has three international trade offices located throughout the world: Mexico, the Middle East region and China.
“Each office focuses on helping each company meet its needs as it tries to break into that respective market or region,” Garcia says.
One key market-entry service offered to Oklahoma-based businesses is attending international trade shows. The Department of Commerce subsidizes the cost for companies, especially small-to-medium-sized businesses, to exhibit under the state’s banner, and allows the companies to meet with potential business partners and buyers, says Garcia.
Other services offered by Oklahoma’s international trade offices include assistance with international regulations and certifications, international distributor or partner searches, market research reports and sourcing assistance.
In 2014, the state’s global trade offices assisted 143 companies with international business needs. According to the International Trade Administration, small and medium-sized businesses generated one-quarter of Oklahoma’s total exports of merchandise in 2014. Oklahoma’s top five exports are: machinery (except electrical); electrical machinery; aircraft and spacecraft; optic, photo, medical or surgical instruments; and iron/steel products.
Smithco Engineering, which designs, manufactures and delivers a range of custom-built air-cooled heat exchangers, participated in the Mexican Petroleum Congress in 2014 and 2015. The goal for the 2015 event was to meet and interview companies who would be interested in becoming the manufacturer’s representative in the Mexico region.
“We met three potential companies that were interested in being our representative,” says Jim Matthews with Smithco. “One of those companies has already visited our shop, and we have extended an offer to be a Smithco representative. We are still in negotiations with the other two. At the show, we also met a number of potential clients.”
Matthews said international trade shows add value because they allow face-to-face meetings with companies that Smithco representatives would not otherwise normally interact with.
“We appreciate all the work that ODOC puts into these shows and the financial support they provide.”
Choctaw Defense is another company that found success attending an international trade show. Representatives from this southeastern Oklahoma-based company that provides manufacturing and welding capabilities attended the trade show in 2015. Keith Briem, vice president of public relations and government affairs, says the face-to-face meetings and media coverage were beneficial to the company.
“Choctaw Defense was able to get a better understanding of its main competitors and allow some industry research capability on their products and services,” Briem says.