Tennessee unveils four trade offices

Tennessee unveils four trade offices

February 12th, 2013 by Mike Pare in Business Around the Region

Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam answers questions during a meeting with the Times Free Press editorial board. At left is Alexia Poe, director of communications for the state of Tennessee.

Photo by John Rawlston/Times Free Press.

EXPORT OFFICES

• Heidelburg, Germany

• London, England

• Mexico City, Mexico

• Shanghai, China

Source: Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development

Samar Ali

Tennessee officials said Monday that new export offices in Mexico, England, Germany and China will open added markets to Chattanooga companies and others in the state.

"We want to de-mystify the process of exporting and take the risk and uncertainty out for small to midsize companies," said Samar Ali, the state Department of Economic and Community Development's assistant commissioner of international affairs.

Slated to open as early as later this week, the offices will mark the first time since 1997 that the state will have overseas sites solely dedicated to advancing Tennessee exports.

"Almost 20 percent of all Tennessee workers depend on the manufacture and sale of exported goods for their jobs," said Gov. Bill Haslam in a statement.

During the last decade, Tennessee's total export volume has more than tripled, according to the state. More than 6,400 Tennessee businesses employing 80,000 workers sold nearly $30 billion worth of Tennessee products around the world in 2011 alone, ranking Tennessee the 14th largest exporting state in the U.S., officials said.

ECD Commissioner Bill Hagerty said that when facing an uncertain global economy, it's imperative Tennessee businesses take steps to access both untapped markets and those exhibiting an increase in purchasing power due to fluctuating currency rates.

Ali said large companies operating in Tennessee most likely already have international divisions so most of the benefit will be seen by small- to medium-size businesses.

The expectation is that each trade office will service 40 companies over the next year and link them with distributors and buyers, she said.

A variety of free services will be offered including business intelligence, market analysis, sales and marketing planning, identification of distribution partners and service providers, and company matchmaking.

"What we hope to do is that the more exports we sell abroad is the more jobs back home," Ali said, adding that the effort is a long-term strategy by the state.