World Trade Week and Small Business Week: Two Great Tastes that Taste Great Together

May 24, 2012

In honor of World Trade Week, the White House issued a Presidential Proclamation on Monday reaffirming the essential role exports play in creating jobs and growing our economy. Here at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, we like World Trade Week so much that we dedicate an entire month to it!

So the Chamber celebrated the benefits of international trade as well as the entry-into-force of the U.S.-Colombia Trade Promotion Agreement in a special event last Tuesday.

Of course, this is also National Small Business Week, and America’s Small Business Summit – hosted by the Chamber — wrapped up yesterday with a rally on Capitol Hill.

At the Summit, the Chairman, President and Chief Executive Officer of FedEx Fred Smith delivered a strong message on international engagement to an audience of over 700 small businesses: “Your growth, and possibly even survival, will depend on accessing new customers in international markets,” he said.

To help small businesses survive and thrive, FedEx and the U.S. Department of Commerce are working together through the New Market Exporter Intiative to identify FedEx's clients that currently export to one market, and introduce them to the global business opportunities and tools available to help them expand their exports and create jobs here at home. 

According to Smith, one of the first questions a small business should ask when looking to do business overseas is “Does the United States have a free trade agreement with this country?” Smith pointed out that the U.S. has 12 free trade agreements with 18 countries and that “the time for international expansion is opportune and also necessary for the survival of small businesses.”

Smith gave the example of a customer of FedEx — OtterBox, a small business that makes protective cases for mobile devices. OtterBox is able to use advantages in broadband technology and seize the benefits of the international marketplace.

The challenge is that the technology is always changing and the customers around the world keep growing. How can they be sure they get the right product to the right place at the right time? Part of OtterBox’s success is due to the way they utilize global logistics and supply chains, with the help of FedEx, to export their products all over world.

Bill Lovell, Director of Global Chain at OtterBox, spoke in a breakout session and touched upon the phenomenal growth that the company has experienced due to trade. OtterBox opened its doors in Fort Collins, Colorado, in 1998 and when he was hired two years ago he was the 117th employee at the company.

Over the past two years, Otterbox has created 500 new jobs. Yes, 500! The firm is growing so rapidly but are working hard to maintain the same company mission and while providing a positive impact on their community.

Trade is an indispensable part of American prosperity, and OtterBox is a terrific example of that.

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