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Michigan Businesses Gain Export Assistance as Van Andel Global Trade Center Becomes Ex-Im Bank City-State Partner

Enhanced Financing Support For Companies

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE October 19, 2005

Media Contact Name/Phone: 

Phil Cogan (202) 565-3200

WASHINGTON, DC --- Michigan companies seeking to begin or increase exports to world markets have gained a powerful new ally right in their own backyard now that the Van Andel Global Trade Center in Grand Rapids and the Export-Import Bank of the United States (Ex-Im Bank) have signed a partnership agreement.

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The Van Andel Global Trade Center (VAGTC) has joined Ex-Im Bank's City-State Partners Program, a national marketing initiative that brings export financing services to small- and medium-sized U.S. companies through cooperation with state and local government offices and private sector organizations. With the addition of the VAGTC, Ex-Im Bank now has 44 city-state partners in 35 states, plus the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico.

The Van Andel Global Trade Center of Grand Valley State University is co-located on the downtown Grand Rapids campus with both the U.S. Export Assistance Center, as well as the State of Michigan headquarters of the Small Business Technology Development Centers. In addition, the VAGTC serves as the administrator of the KOM Foreign Trade Zone #189 .

The region is home to several industry clusters including automotive supply, office furniture, food service, life science technology, and plastics.

The mission of the VAGTC is to increase the ability of Michigan businesses to compete globally. As an Ex-Im Bank City-State partner, VAGTC can now provide strengthened support for Michigan businesses seeking to sell their products or services in international markets through its new partnership with the Ex-Im Bank.

Small business is a powerful engine of American job and export growth, said James H. Lambright, president and chairman (acting) of Ex-Im Bank. Our partners ensure these small businesses have the same expertise and export opportunities as large companies and foreign competitors.

A total of 12,127 companies exported goods from Michigan locations in 2002. Of those, 10,573 (87 percent) were small and medium-sized enterprises, with fewer than 500 employees.

A major key to success in the global marketplace is being able to offer competitive financing options to foreign buyers, and having available working capital to produce the goods for export, said Jeffrey Meyer, executive director of the VAGTC. This new relationship with Ex-Im Bank opens the door for Michigan businesses to take full advantage of the valuable plans and programs that will allow them to be more competitive in export markets.

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EX-IM BANK CITY-STATE PARTNER - The Van Andel Global Trade Center (VAGTC) is Ex-Im Bank's newest partner in a national marketing initiative that brings export financing services to small- and medium-sized U.S. companies. The VAGTC of Grand Valley State University is co-located on the downtown Grand Rapids, Mich. campus, pictured above.

As a City-State Partner, the Center can walk local businesses through the process of applying for a wide range of Ex-Im Bank financing tools including working capital support and export credit insurance and guarantees that will enable them to better compete in growth markets abroad.

The Center offers a range of services to Michigan businesses, including training, consulting and pro bono counseling. Since 1999, the VAGTC has trained over 6,000 individuals and consulted over 600 companies in the Michigan area on international business topics. It has provided over 1,000 hours of pro bono counseling hours to area businesses.

Ex-Im Bank trains its partners to market Ex-Im Bank's products to local businesses and lenders, teach seminars, advise exporters and lenders, and package loan transactions for lender approval. Companies needing financing assistance should contact Jeffrey Meyer at the Center at (616) 331-6811.

Michigan's export shipments of merchandise in 2004 totaled $35.6 billion, placing Michigan fourth among the states in this category. Jobs generated by exports of services and jobs sustained by direct exports of products from other non-manufacturing sectors (e.g., mining and agriculture) are excluded.

Consequently, the numbers understate the total employment impact of exports on the U.S. economy.

In the past five years Ex-Im Bank has supported over $592 million of exports from 124 Michigan companies in 72 communities.

Ex-Im Bank, now in its 71 st year of operation, is an independent U.S. government agency that helps finance the sale of U.S. exports primarily to emerging markets throughout the world by providing loans, guarantees and insurance. In fiscal year 2004, Ex-Im Bank authorized financing to support approximately $17.8 billion in U.S. exports worldwide, a 25% jump from a year earlier.

For more information on Ex-Im Bank visit the web site at //www.exim.gov. More information on the Van Andel Global Trade Center may be found on the Web at http://www.vagtc.org.

For information on becoming a City-State Partner, or contacting existing Partners, e-mail Mr. Gus Grace via e of Ex-Im Bank at Gus.Grace(at)exim.gov.