With anti-corporation demonstrations blossoming across the country and across the world and an American unemployment rate that remains stubbornly above 9 percent, a breakfast panel convened by Washington Post Live addressed a solution that has yet to dawn on the vast majority of American small and mid-sized businesses: Exports offer market diversity in a time of anemic domestic earnings, meaning also that American companies that deploy an export-oriented strategy will become the engines of domestic economic and job growth.
The Washington Post Live "Exporting for Growth" panel
was moderated by Washington Post's Mary Jordan and featured Marie Johns, deputy administrator, Small Business Association; Michael Filchock, director, global trade solutions, SunTrust Bank; Bill Burwell, director, Baltimore U.S. Export Assistance Center; Drew Greenblatt, president, Marlin Steel; and Sean Robert Mulvaney, board of directors, Export-Import Bank of the United States.
"We need to demystify the role of exporting," Johns said, citing that only 1 percent of American small and mid-size businesses export products or services.
This point was echoed at a separate event in New York on Monday, as GE's CEO Jeff Immelt said that the U.S. business community is just not trying that hard to reach its exports potential, as Reuters reported
"We're not trying that hard," Immelt said at the Thomson Reuters Newsmaker event on Monday. "We haven't really tried as hard as we can to compete, educate and sell our products around the world, and I think we can do better."
Drew Greenblatt offered a broad optimism, saying that there are many government-backed support mechanisms in place to help push American products and services into international markets, particularly those markets that are demonstrating measurable growth.
"We can hit President Obama's goals," Greenblatt said, referring to the White House's insistence that U.S. exports can be doubled over the next 5 years.
American banks, portrayed as villains by the increasingly ugly occupation movements sweeping the globe, are aligned with the White House exports objective, particularly since most export-oriented loans are guaranteed by U.S. federal and state governments.
"As a lender, we want to see exporters succeed," Filchock said. "We are eager as ever to go ahead and lend."
The panelists offered numerous government resources, insisting that greater coordination has emerged between entities like the Small Business Association and the Commerce Department. Export.gov was cited as a good place for small and mid-size businesses to start, offering broad-scale databases, webcasts
, and other resources.
"Two out of every three jobs are created by small businesses in the United States," Johns said. Given the stakes in the shaky American economy, the figures cited point to a small business powered recovery.
The "Exporting for Growth" breakfast was the first in a three-city series and was sponsored by UPS, who also offered informative market guides
in the accompanying Twitter stream that was tethered to the breakfast event. The next breakfast panel will be held in Chicago in early November.