European Union workshop coming to Arkansas presents rare opportunity for local businesses

by Gina Radke (ginaradke@galleysupport.com) 258 views 

I am a businesswoman. I sell products and services. Like most companies, I want to sell my products worldwide. But there is a problem: selling products worldwide is expensive. And hard. But mostly expensive.

Getting your company in front of people in other countries takes a lot of time, travel, money and understanding exporting rules. Don’t give up yet because I have good news. What if I told you that you could make a short drive to Little Rock and meet companies from the European Union. Not only companies, but U.S. and EU trade reps to teach you how to export.

But wait, there’s more. There will also be local resources there to assist you and some even have grants to help you export. All for the low, low, price of … FREE.

“How can this be?” you ask. Well, let me tell you.

Through my work as an advisor on the Industry Trade Advisory Committee to the U.S. Congress, I learned of the U.S.-EU Small and Medium Enterprise (SME) Workshop four years ago. Since that day, I have lobbied for the event to be held in Arkansas. I think it is important to display middle America, specifically Arkansas, on a worldwide stage. Plus, I care deeply about the growth of small- and medium-sized businesses. This upcoming conference is a perfect opportunity for them to increase sales via exporting to the EU.

Once I was informed by the U.S. Trade Representative choosing Arkansas to host the event, I went to work putting together a team of economic developers and influencers from around the state to help pull off the workshop, which alternates between the EU and U.S. each year.

This event has only been held outside of Washington D.C. one other time, so this is a huge and rare opportunity for Arkansas. We have a fantastic team and great sponsorships from local companies and organizations that promise to make this a highly successful event for everyone.

Here is another piece of information that might surprise you – small and medium companies can range up to 2,000 employees in certain industries. So, this workshop is not just for the four-person company selling artisan crafts. It’s for almost every business in the state. Any business that has a product or service that can be utilized in the EU. This ranges from digital services, AI, aircraft parts, lasers, tooling, liquor, specialty foods, on and on. And yes, even artisan crafts.

The 10th U.S.-EU Small and Medium Enterprise (SME) Workshop in the framework of the Transatlantic Economic Council (TEC) will take place Sept. 19, 2019 in North Little Rock, Ark. The conference is convened by the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative, the U.S. Department of Commerce, and the U.S. Small Business Administration with the European Commission’s Directorate General for Trade (DG TRADE) and Directorate General for Internal Market, Industry, Entrepreneurship and SMEs (DG GROW). The Arkansas Economic Development Commission is helping host the event.

The U.S.-EU SME Workshop is an ongoing opportunity for small and medium businesses to engage directly and discuss trade topics of interest with U.S. and EU officials as well as EU Member States and small and medium businesses and associations from both sides of the Atlantic.

Participants will include officials from the European Commission, EU Member States, U.S. officials, and executives from SMEs and business associations. We encourage SME businesses from around the country to attend and share best practices. Topics include U.S.-EU trade, international strategies for rural economic development, small business participation in transatlantic supply chains, workforce training for global competitiveness, and small business innovation in industries of the future.

Participants are responsible for their own travel expenses and accommodations. If you would like to register to attend the 10th U.S.-EU SME Workshop, please RSVP with your name, organization, city/state and email to US-EUSMEworkshop@ustr.eop.gov and dmathis@arkansasstatechamber.com.

RSVPs are accepted on a first-come space available basis. For security reasons, venue location and further details will be provided to registered participants. Sponsorships are mostly set but a few remain. Contact Gina Radke at ginaradke@galleysupport.com for sponsorship information.

Editor’s note: Gina Radke is the CEO of Sherwood-based Galley Support Innovations, a designer and manufacturer of interior hardware for the aviation, marine, rail, and private transportation industries. The opinions expressed are those of the author.

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