Virginia exports are rebounding after significant declines in 2008 and 2009 during the recession, increasing by nearly 6 percent in 2011 to $18.1 billion, ranking it as the 25th-largest exporting state in the U.S. More than 83 percent of the nearly 6,600 companies that are involved in international trade, both imports and exports, have fewer than 500 employees.
There are many good reasons to export: reduced dependence on the domestic market; diversified sources of revenue; extended sales potential and product shelf life of existing products; and stabilized seasonal markets and sales fluctuations, to name a few.
“Given the specter of a jobless economic recovery and lagging consumer spending,” said Todd McCracken, president of NSBA, “exporting may be one of the few areas remaining where small businesses can grow right now.”
However, for smaller firms that don’t have many resources, the idea of sending goods overseas can be daunting. Exporting to foreign markets comes with an array of issues, such as completing mounds of paperwork and deciphering often-complicated customs rules.
“You have to understand all the nuances of exporting to other countries,” said Luz Hopewell, director of the Small Business Administration’s Office of International Trade. “Sometimes if (a firm) doesn’t get the right license or doesn’t have the right paperwork, the product can be returned from the shipping docks.”
The Small Business Administration (SBA) provides resources for business owners who are evaluating exporting their products. These include the Export Business Planner and U.S. Export Assistance Centers.
Virginia has a deep history of producing high-quality artisanal products including furniture, glass, musical instruments, jewelry, wines, grains and produce, among many others.
It is time to expand the export of these great products for the entire world to enjoy!