Officials launched a new local Export Specialty Center to help small businesses looking to make the leap into the global market. Photo credit: Screen shot, San Diego Regional EDC, via YouTube

Business allies have launched a center to focus on small business export issues, training and advising in San Diego and Imperial counties, officials said this week.

The San Diego and Imperial Small Business Development Center partnered with World Trade Center San Diego to bring an Export Specialty Center to the region, housed at the trade center.

The goals is to increase the number of export-ready firms in the region.

Challenges facing small businesses include the pandemic-induced economic crisis, rapid shifts in global and regional supply chains, and changes to the country’s trading relationship with world powers.

The partners argue that local businesses should be equipped with tools to compete in the global marketplace. The World Trade Center has done so through the MetroConnect accelerator program, which selects companies ready to embark on export activities.

The development center, said Nikia Clarke, executive director of the trade center, “will really focus on getting small businesses to a point where they are positioned for international growth, which we know will grow jobs, increase revenues and improve resiliency here at home.”

Launched in 2014 as an affiliate of the San Diego Regional Economic Development Corporation, the trade center will receive additional funding from the small business center to expand.

That includes adding to its export portfolio of small businesses, hiring a new full-time employee, and  identifying companies ready for the export accelerator program.

“Exporting makes companies stronger and more resilient – especially important amid an economic downturn spurred by COVID-19,” said Daniel Fitzgerald, associate regional director of the small business center.

The contract runs from Oct. 1 through 2021. The World Trade Center hired coordinator Ajogwu (Jeff) Adegbe to help lead the effort.

– Staff reports

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