SANDY — Utah small-business owners have a new resource to help take their ventures to customers around the world.
Salt Lake Community College's Miller Business Resource Center announced Monday the creation of the SLCC-Utah Small Business Development Center Network Global Trade Center.
The new center will collaborate with the existing SLCC Global Business Center that was established in 2007. The consolidation of both programs will advance trade services for small businesses and continue the legacy of staunch support for international training and education, explained Jim Herrin, Salt Lake region director of the Utah Small Business Development Center.
"One of the things that we want to have happen is more businesses find out about global trade," he said. "Then we can work with them one on one, give them the time they need so they feel comfortable with it."
The Utah network is a program of the U.S. Small Business Administration that is funded by the agency, the state of Utah, as well as local colleges and universities where all 14 local centers are hosted, Herrin said. Business advisers with the Small Business Development Center provide free person-to-person assistance to small-business owners in all areas of business and help entrepreneurs that are trying to start their businesses or those who are already established, he added.
While just 1 percent of American small businesses export goods, those companies are responsible for one-third of total U.S. global exports, a news release states.
The state Department of Commerce reported that Utah exported $11.6 billion in goods in 2017, with small businesses accounting for 49 percent of the total. There are 2,917 small businesses that export goods and services, representing 84 percent of all export firms, according to the release.
Herrin said, in many cases, Utah companies may find greater chances for growth in foreign markets than in the U.S. because there is less competition.
"In many countries, made in the USA is (considered) a premium product," he said. "So sometimes, (U.S. companies) can charge a premium price."
He also noted that economies grow when outside investors come into local markets.
"By getting more global capital to come into Utah, it helps the standard of living for everybody," he said.
To that point, international trade supports 1 in 5 Utah jobs over 30 industries, said Miles Hansen, president and CEO of World Trade Center Utah, which highlights the importance of fostering growth in foreign markets for local small businesses.
"International trade is integral to the continued growth of Utah's economy," he said. "It creates jobs (and) it makes companies more resilient."
The resources available through the new global trade center will help companies identify international opportunities and understand what steps they need to take now to take advantage of those possibilities, he added.
Because Utah already has a diverse population that includes people with lots of international life and business experience, the state is well-positioned to provide the resources necessary to help small businesses succeed and grow over the long term, he said.
"Our international engagement is Utah's competitive advantage," Hansen said. "Most (Utah) small businesses are thinking internationally from the beginning. There are things they can do to position themselves as they grow to go out and take advantage of international opportunities."
Having the requisite resources available at their disposal can be invaluable to those local small businesses that utilize them, he added.
Speaking after the event, David Glaccum, associate administrator for the Office of International Trade of the U.S Small Business Administration, said these kinds of collaborative partnerships can help small businesses in Utah and across the country get to the "next level" in their growth potential.
"We can prepare them to export and then my office can come in and hopefully help with access to capital with grant programs or other (options) to help them find the international buyers," he said. "This type of (network) organization where there is such a wealth of knowledge is a massive benefit to us (and the small businesses)."