South-central Kansas public officials learn nuts and bolts of exporting at Wichita seminar

Exporting sounds risky and complicated. Well, it’s not.

Or so said Elyse Eriksson, who owns a company called Export Connector in Dallas.

She’s an export consultant and trainer who delivered a light-hearted, day-long primer Wednesday on the basics of exporting to a few dozen local officials.

It’s a small part of a five-year Wichita-South Central Kansas Regional Export Plan to boost regional exports throughout 10 counties in south-central Kansas.

They were at Wichita State University’s Hughes Metropolitan Complex to learn enough about how to export to be comfortable encouraging companies in their cities and counties to export. They are supposed to become ambassadors in their communities for increased exporting.

Eriksson said learning to export is really learning a set of steps. They start with figuring out whether a company has a product or service that can be exported and run through the market research, the extensive government support, legal requirements, government export requirements, transportation, the payment system and, last, cultural appropriateness.

“They think it’s too complicated,” she said.

There are plenty of places for companies to start, including the Kansas Global Trade Services, the Kansas Small Business Development Center, and the local offices of the U.S. Small Business Administration and the U.S. Commercial Service.

The Export Plan aims to raise Wichita-area exports by $1.1 billion over five years, which has the potential to create 6,000 jobs. The plan, partly developed by local companies and organizations, seeks to increase exports by non-aviation companies by 30 percent and service companies by 15 percent.

The Wichita area has long been one of the nation’s heaviest exporting regions for its size because of the aircraft it sells globally, but there are plenty of small and medium-size companies that could export or export more, said Karyn Page, president of Kansas Global Trade Services.

Six months into the five-year plan, Page said, she had hope for stronger interest from companies and from local officials.

“Honestly, I’d like to see more interest,” she said. “But it’s just the first year.”

Reach Dan Voorhis at 316-268-6577 or Follow him on Twitter: @danvoorhis.