The Small Business Development Center at Wright State has added a federal employee to its roster to help pair local companies with international markets.
“Our job is to get to know our companies in our area and find out which have the potential to sell in foreign markets,” said Deborah Dirr, international trade specialist for the U.S. Department of Commerce. “We’re much more like a consulting firm than we are a government agency.”
Dirr joined the SBDC at the Raj Soin College of Business in January and will staff a permanent satellite office of the U.S. Commercial Service, U.S. Department of Commerce in Rike Hall.
She’s been working for years out of the Cincinnati office and has served the Dayton area for years. Dirr works directly with colleagues in about 75 countries who are hired by the United States to help U.S. companies break into, and in some cases dodge the pitfalls that can occur in, foreign markets.
“For example one big service we offer includes background checks of foreign companies to assess risk,” said Dirr.
That’s important because domestic companies often have limited insight into the current trade atmosphere in foreign markets that can depend on back-room dealings by companies and trade barriers by foreign governments.
Additional services include export relations advocacy, financing programs, distribution recommendations, business matchmaking and help with contract formulation.
This is just the latest example of the SBDC at Wright State’s commitment to provide services to local businesses that might want to go international.
Last fall, in a similar move, the SBDC merged with the Ohio’s top International Trade Assistant Center (ITAC), bringing Kathy Marshalek into the fold following many years of service in the ITAC office in Kettering.
“The local businesses now have access to an export center that will help them determine where in the world are their best markets and help entering and selling into those markets,” said Marshalek. “The students will be able to work with these exporters through internships and educational opportunities.”
The addition of Dirr enhances these capabilities because Marshalek works with state on imports and exports, whereas Dirr is focused solely on exports and works directly with U.S. embassies and consulates.
Dirr serves nine Dayton-area counties on a regular basis and is eager to get to work with new clients who have not yet taken advantage of this service.
“This resource is here and it’s pre-paid,” says SBDC business advisor Earl Gregorich. “They (local businesses) paid for it with their tax dollars.”