A need for small and medium businesses to export from Jacksonville clearly exists, as stated by a recent market assessment from the Global Cities Initiative.
But who's job is it to actually work with those businesses to get them to the point where they can export?
That role goes to Katie Arroyo, a trade specialist with the Small Business Development Center at the University of North Florida.
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As part of a partnership between the center, the U.S. Commercial Service and Enterprise Florid, Arroyo will develop an export marketing plan for businesses identified as having the capacity to export. The plan, which takes about two months to develop, would typically cost a business $3,000, but is being offered for $500 as part of the initiative.
Arroyo, who has worked in other states doing similar work, said the partnership is unique to Florida.
"It's remarkable to see the support Florida and the U.S. Commercial Service gives," she said.
Arroyo said many of the potential businesses are put in contact with her through her "street team," her counterparts at the commercial service and Enterprise Florida. "It's a statewide effort," she said.
The reaction she gets from most business owners is the same.
"They say, 'How come I've never heard of you before?'," she said, laughing. "People don't know."
After the initial surprise of learning her job exists, Arroyo said the next reaction from business owners is also often the same.
"They are jazzed," she said, adding that they're excited to learn that they can feasibly export their goods and services.
Arroyo said the process isn't easy. After the customized plan, members of the businesses' staff has to learn how to go from domestic sales to international sales. There is plenty of training and consulting involved.