Campus News Georgia Impact

SBDC program helps small companies learn how to export goods

Thanks to UGA, small companies like Commercial Fluid Power in Rome are expanding their markets outside of the U.S.

The company, which manufactures steel tubing and chrome-plated bars for mining and construction equipment, began shipping its wares to Chile in 2009 after its managers took the ExportGA course offered through the Small Business Development Center, a public service and outreach unit.

The SBDC partners with the UGA Terry College of Business to offer companies traditional workshops as well as help from international business majors. Students attend the workshops and do a lot of the footwork necessary to allow the companies to sell to other countries.

“What’s nice is both the student and company are getting classroom instruction from professionals in the various subject areas,” said Rick Martin, director of the SBDC’s International Trade Division and manager of the ExportGA program.

Students are encouraged to draw on knowledge acquired from their academic and internship experiences to create an international action plan, which their companies can follow.

The program began as a traditional SBDC workshop series, but Martin and his colleagues realized companies were too busy with their operations to act on what they learned. The partnership with Terry has provided the resources to handle the work necessary to implement an export plan.

ExportGA has grown into a “flagship” program for international business students, said Jay Mathias, a program specialist with the Terry College. At least three interns have been hired by the company they worked with during the program.

“If they graduate from Terry with an international business degree, this is something they can point to as real-world experience when they’re entering the job market,” Mathias said.

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