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Manufacturing council meeting showcased local exporting resources

Publish Date: Monday, January 25, 2010

The Capital Area Manufacturing Council met on January 19 to learn about local resources that can help increase exports from Capital Area manufacturers.  

The Council is a community of manufacturers, associates and partners seeking to improve the manufacturing competitiveness of mid-Michigan and to enhance the success of area manufacturers. 
The group meets bimonthly at the west campus of Lansing Community College to provide a forum where firms can come together to exchange information and knowledge in order to address common issues.

The presentation featured three speakers:
  • Jean Schtokal, shareholder at Foster, Swift, Collins & Smith, P.C.,
  • Tomas Hult, Acting Associate Dean for Global Initiatives and Director of the Center for International Business Education and Research at Michigan State,
  •  Patrick McRae, Foreign Commercial Service Officer at the U.S. Department of Commerce.

Schtokal is an involved member of the international business community in Michigan. She is the co-chair of the Global Business Club of Mid-Michigan and a CIBER Advisory Board member.

"Exports are increasing in Michigan," Schtokal said. "International market expansion brings new customers, some new risks and often leads to new product development."

Schtokal said that international expansion requires some due diligence and some assistance from professionals. There are many resources in the Lansing area that can help start the process for little or no cost.

The Small Business Technology Development Center at Lansing Community College offers technical assistance to business owners and managers as well as advising services and educational and training services.

Hult introduced the group to some of the programs available at the International Business Center. The Center recently launched the Michigan Export Growth Program with seed money from the Ford Company. The program offers pro bono exporting advice to the greater Lansing area. 

The Center also produces globalEDGE, a popular online source for international business. The site is a resource for business people with country information, cultural information and tools to help U.S. businesses be more competitive.

McRae presented about some of the programs the U.S. Commercial Service offers to U.S. businesses. "We have great tools for any business looking to export," McRae said. "We have more than domestic offices and we have people and resources where Americans want to do business."

The U.S. Commercial Service offers a wide range of services from helping businesses find initial partners and advertise their goods to very comprehensive, customized support. They use their global network to connect local businesses with interested buyers, distributors and sales representatives across the globe. 

The Capital Area Manufacturing Council is scheduled to meet again on March 16, 2009.

For more information:

The Capital Area Manufacturing Council:

The U.S. Department of Commerce, U.S. Commercial Service Export Assistance Center:

The International Business Center at Michigan State:

The Small Business Technology Development Center at Lansing Community College: