Sequestration. Do Nothing Congress. Debt Limits. Ninety-nine percent of the news these days about the federal government is pretty negative.
However, there are some really good programs and services available to businesses—including exhibitions!
I had lunch this week with someone from the Commercial Service of the U.S. Department of Commerce, and we discussed some programs there that exhibition organizers don’t take advantage of—besides the fairly well-known International Buyers Program (IBP).
Did you know there are more than 100 export assistance centers in the U.S., whose sole purpose is to help U.S. companies (particularly small and medium-sized ones) export successfully? And that much of the assistance is free? (There are also paid programs.)
If your exhibition(s) are in mature industries, helping your exhibitors expand their businesses overseas makes sense. Exports create jobs at home. “Made in America” is still a great brand. Among many things, it stands for great quality, training and—should something break—spare parts that are readily available.
Reach out to the export assistance folks wherever your shows are located. Even if you aren’t in the IBP, they may visit your show, speak with exhibitors and even have suggestions on what countries have the best prospects for exporting. (In other words, where to target your international visitor promotional efforts.)
Visit export.gov. There’s lots of great information: international market research reports by industry, in-depth information on how to begin exporting and how to find local export counselors.
Gone are the days when we, as show organizers, just sold space in a building. If you’re not helping your industry grow, someone else will.
Stephanie S. Selesnick is president of International Trade Information, a longtime global exhibition industry specialist helping U.S show organizers increase international participation in their exhibitions and a well-known speaker and trainer. Follow her on Twitter at @stephselesnick.