An effort to boost the area’s exports is hitting its early goals, according to Karyn Page, president of Kansas Global Trade Services.
The effort, the Wichita South-Central Kansas Regional Export Plan, went into effect January 2015 with a five-year goal of encouraging local companies to increase exports by $1.2 billion in non-aviation manufacturing and services. The plan covers a 10-county region around Wichita.
The efforts focuses on identifying, educating and assisting companies to export more, and in more a determined way. The effort is also trying to build a stronger support system among local governments and economic development groups.
She will present the update at Wichita City Council on Tuesday.
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After 18 months, Page said, the effort has hit 30 percent completion on all of its goals. The goals include: building an export assistance system in the area; make exporting a bigger part of local economic development efforts; aiding export growth for aviation suppliers; and identifying and aiding export of non-aviation manufacturers and service companies.
“It has been an encouraging year, especially because of the headwinds of the strong dollar and the weakness in the global economy,” Page said.
The dollar has generally risen against major world currencies over the last two years, making U.S. products somewhat more expensive. And global growth has also slowed considerably in the last two years.
She said that the actual export increase attributable to the program was $6.8 million, but she expects that to rise considerably in the coming months.
She noted the early success of the export accelerator grant program. Companies can seek up to $5,000 for training or travel to better understand how to export. Of five completed grants, four reported that they saw $1.5 million more in business. Twenty-one more companies are working through their grant projects and have yet to report back, she said.
She also said that Kansas Global has made progress in establishing itself and Network Kansas as the point of contact for trade expertise.
She said the effort hasn’t yet focused on contacting aviation suppliers to exports, but will start soon. And it is working to develop a mentoring program for exporters.
The efforts results will grow as the effort builds and accelerates, she said.
“This is one way that our community is proactively staving off economic decline by really increasing its sales to foreign destinations,” she said.