International Trade Representatives Meet With Lehigh Valley Businesses

By Colin McEvoy on September 13, 2019

Lehigh University’s Small Business Development Center (SBDC) hosted its annual “Bringing the World to PA” event on Sept. 9.

Trade representatives from nearly four dozen countries visited the Lehigh Valley this week for the region’s premier international conference.

Lehigh University’s Small Business Development Center (SBDC) hosted its annual “Bringing the World to PA” event on Sept. 9, providing an opportunity for regional companies to meet with authorized trade representatives from the Pennsylvania Office of International Business Development.

Held at the Ben Franklin TechVentures business incubator in Bethlehem, the event provided an excellent opportunity for large and small businesses in Lehigh Valley to meet with overseas trade representatives during one-on-one meetings at breakout tables and increase their international reach.

The countries represented included Australia, Canada, China, Czech Republic, Germany, India, Indonesia, Italy, Mexico, Netherlands, New Zealand, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, South Korea, Sweden, Taiwan, the United Arab Emirates, the United Kingdom, and many more.

“There are many incredible opportunities available to Lehigh Valley companies interested in overseas markets,” said Matthew Tuerk, Vice President, Economic Development & Marketing. “This event is just one of many examples of the dedication our state and regional partners have to the success of our companies here in the Lehigh Valley.”

Tuerk provided an overview of the Lehigh Valley economy, including its record-high $40.1 billion gross domestic product (GDP), and discussed LVEDC’s strategic efforts and messaging around talent attraction.

This includes the efforts of the LVEDC Education and Talent Supply Council, and the organization’s newly-launched Made Possible in Lehigh Valley initiative.

OIBD has an extensive trade representative network, as well as a network of business representatives at countries around the world, speaking regularly with companies in those countries and encouraging them to establish U.S. operations in the state of Pennsylvania.

“There is no question that small- and medium-sized companies that export play a critical role in driving economic growth in Pennsylvania,” said Jennifer Black, Executive Director of Export Development with OIBD. “Our mission is to provide high quality, value-added consulting services to help companies grow their international sales.”

LVEDC regularly engages this international network, educating them about the regional economy and economic assets here so they can advocate on behalf of the Lehigh Valley to international companies when they return to their offices overseas.

Earlier this year, LVEDC hosted a Lehigh Valley bus tour with a visiting contingent of business representatives. LVEDC representatives also accompanied OIBD officials during international business development tours in Western Europe in 2015 and China in 2017

During the Sept. 10 event, the trade representatives were able to assist Lehigh Valley companies on a wide range of topics, according to Brett Smith, Associate Director of Lehigh University’s SBDC.

Among them were market research, agent and distributor searches, in-country resource partners, helping make connections, identifying and supporting relevant trade events, reviewing marketing materials, he said.

The Lehigh University SBDC is a member of the Pennsylvania Network of Small Business Development Center, whose mission is to provide entrepreneurs and small business owners with the knowledge needed to make smart decisions and prosper.

Lehigh University’s SBDC has served small businesses in Lehigh, Northampton, Bucks, and Montgomery counties since 1978. It annually consults with over 1000 small businesses and provides free consulting to businesses in all stages of development, from pre-venture to mature.

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