"Jump Start Washington Exports" program kicks off with Rep. Rick Larsen speaking

Mar 24, 2011


By Kera Wanielista

Rep. Rick Larsen speaks at the Squalicum Boathouse about the importance of exporting goods to help rebuild the economy.

“We’re here to help,” was the message sent to small and medium sized business owners yesterday at the meeting to kick off the “Jump Start Washington Exports” (JustWaEx) program.

Rep. Rick Larsen, the Washington State Department of Commerce, the Bellingham/Whatcom Chamber of Commerce and WWU’s Center for Economic Vitality teamed up to inform local business owners about the benefits of exporting goods and ways to maximize their efficiency in doing so.

“Exports create more jobs per dollar than work related to increasing goods that aren’t exports,” Rep. Larsen said.

JustWaEx is designed to connect businesses that export goods with foreign companies, particularly in Canada, that could use those goods, through matchmaking and technical assistance.

It’s the newest project designed to fulfill President Obama’s Executive Order from January 2010, National Export Initiative (NEI), which aims to double the amount of goods exported in five years, said Andrew Crowder with the Washington State Department of Commerce.

It’s an aggressive goal, Crowder said, but achievable.

During the first six months of 2010, Crowder said, exports increased by about 18 percent. For the whole year that number leveled off at about 16 percent.

By helping small and middle-sized businesses connect with foreign countries to export more goods, those companies can see an increase in their revenues, and help stimulate the economy.

“The more we export the things we make the less we have to be worried about exporting jobs,” Larsen said.

But the business of knowing how and who to export to can be tricky, especially for businesses experimenting with exports for the first time.
That’s where the State Department of Commerce, and WWU’s Center for Economic Vitality come in. JustWaEx is a program funded by the Department of Commerce and offers no-cost and confidential counseling and “match-making” opportunities to companies, especially by pairing with Canadian companies.

“You can be more strategic in finding the right partners, in the right countries, at the right time,” said Center for Economic Vitality director Tom Dorr.

The meeting was designed to let small business owners know that there is help available to them at the local, state, and federal level in regards to expanding their export industries.

Anyone interested in obtaining services from the Center for Economic Vitality is encouraged to call them, 360-733-4104.