More than 60 Hawaii small business leaders attended a workshop held by Senator Mazie K. Hirono and the Export-Import Bank (Ex-Im Bank) of the United States aimed at boosting the exports of local small businesses. During the session, members of the Ex-Im Bank briefed small business owners on how their agency can help businesses increase the number of goods and services they export to other countries, break into foreign markets and find foreign buyers.
"I was pleased to see so many Hawaii small business leaders participate in today's forum," Hirono said. "Increasing exports isn't just important for Hawaii small businesses -- it will help us create jobs and build a more sustainable economy. The tools presented today put business owners in greater control of growing their business and sales. Many Hawaii businesses are already benefitting from these resources from the Export-Import Bank and the U.S. Small Business Administration, and I hope today's seminar will allow even more entrepreneurs to replicate that success."
Joining Hirono was Ex-Im Bank Director Patricia Loui who led discussions about how the agency can help Hawaii small businesses by offering low cost insurance and loans to small businesses trying to break into foreign markets and community banks.
"President Obama challenged the nation to double its exports by 2015," explained Director Loui, who founded Hawaii marketing and consulting firm OmniTrak Group and is a former East-West Center Association and Bank of Hawaii executive. "That's why Ex-Im Bank and Senator Hirono are doing all we can to equip small businesses in Hawaii with the tools they need to successfully compete in global markets, particularly in Asia and the Pacific islands. Asia represents 60 percent of U.S. exports. Given Hawaii's proximity, international visitors who vacation in the Islands each year, and APEC 2011, exporting is an excellent growth strategy. We want to make sure Hawaii's companies know about the products Ex-Im offers to ensure payment, providing working capital and finance international buyers."
At the event, Hirono told the story of how Hawaii small business Super Foods Incorporated has been helped by the services of the Ex-Im Bank. Thanks to the bank's credit insurance program, this "mom and pop" business was able to increase staff and start exporting Hawaii-grown fruits and vegetables overseas. Super Foods continues exporting and offering credit terms of their own to reliable foreign customers.
"The Ex-Im credit insurance makes my husband and me feel more comfortable about export sales along with handling payment risks when our company offers credit terms to accommodate foreign customers," Ying Wang, owner of Super Foods, Inc. said. "Business is good, and we're very happy to have this Ex-Im Bank coverage."
The Hawaii Chamber of Commerce, Hawaii Pacific Export Council, High Tech Development Corporation, U.S. Small Business Administration and the Small Business Development Centers were also represented at the event, as well as the Hawaii Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism's (DBEDT) Foreign-Trade Zone No. 9, which is part of the Ex-Im Bank's City-State Partner Program.
"The Export-Import Bank of the U.S is a key export incentive for Hawaii business to increase their global sales," Mary Alice Evans, DBEDT Deputy Director. "With Ex-Im's multiple incentives, such as their Export Credit Insurance program, the Ex-Im Bank can give exporters assurance of payment on their foreign sales. The Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism's (DBEDT) Hawaii Foreign-Trade Zone #9 is proud to be the State of Hawaii's City State partner with the Ex-Im Bank."