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NDTO News Article

2011 NDTO Annual Meeting Recap

Exporting continues to make a huge impact on the economy of North Dakota.  That was the message from NDTO executive director Dean Gorder, Wednesday, June 1st at the NDTO annual meeting held in Fargo. 

Gorder gave a recap of the 2009-2011 biennium, and a preview of the strategic focus and plan for the next two years.  The NDTO received $2.064MM in state funding in the present biennium, with a match requirement of $750,000 in private funds from exporters, export service providers and federal grant authorities.  Once again the NDTO proved to be a good investment. In the current biennium, the Trade Office has been true to its mission and has continued to be a highly profitable entity for the state.  Data based on surveys returned from Trade Office members who traveled on trade missions or who took part in reverse missions indicate these companies generated $60 MM in incremental export sales over the previous 12 months resulting in $3.4 million in incremental state tax revenue.  In essence, the annual state tax revenue generated from these members represents more than twice the state funding provided the Trade Office during the biennium.

The Trade Office has expanded to global offices located in Kazakhstan, Ukraine, and China/Hong Kong; along with Fargo based country representatives of Turkey and South Korea.  Our representatives have enabled us to identify, recruit and build relationships with key distributors and customers; as well as troubleshoot on behalf of our exporters.  These representatives are the critical to advancing our success.  The NDTO is currently looking at adding additional representation in India.

The Trade office offers many resources to members.  Some of those resources include the following:

  • Export Management Course:  The NDTO successfully launched  (for credit) Export Management Certificate Course in conjunction with the University of North Dakota (fall of 2009) and North Dakota State University (spring 2010).  The course is 12 weeks and educates university students, export assistants, and international export managers and staff with expertise from industry experts and business resource providers.
  • Trade Talks:  NDTO trade talks include a combination of live seminars and on-line webinars.  Over the present biennium, 18 events were held, with 371 participants and a 90% satisfaction rating.  Trade Talks were expanded in this biennium to include technical export issues, high level trade discussions from experts, and country market experts. 
  • Export Assistant Program:  This program places graduate students with participating companies where the skill set and company needs are best met.  The export assistants, students at North Dakota State University, work up to 20 hours a week, and full time over the summer.  The companies commit to a 2 year relationship, and the graduate students help build the global business.  The students gain work experience related to their graduate studies, college credit and tuition assistance; and upon graduation move onto careers in international business or assist the companies in pursuit of global business opportunities that would not have been realized.  In addition, half of the student’s earnings are paid by the company.   Currently there are 16 assistantships and 13 are filled. 
  • Website enhancement and Global Business Expo:  The NDTO launched a new website in July 2010.  The website includes a business expo, a unique and versatile approach enabling member companies to showcase their products in a trade show-like format.  This service is available to members and non-members on a fee basis.  The website serves as a global resource for our country representatives, member and non-member companies, their products and the NDTO.  
  • ExporTech: The ExporTech program is designed to help small to medium sized companies enter or expand into global markets by helping them to understand how exports can be a major growth driver; identify hurdles to expansion, and work one-on-one with facilitators and experts to develop their export growth plan. 
  • Global Conference:  Global Business Connections was held in Fargo, ND, March 30-31, 2011.  Greg Page, Chairman and CEO of Cargill was the key note speaker.   The conference, which will now be held on a yearly basis starting in 2012, focuses on bringing exporters, together with service providers and international industry professionals for networking, break-out sessions, and information on current subjects of international interest.   

Trade Missions are of vital importance.  In the past biennium the NDTO escorted 55 companies to 7 countries.  Those companies reported immediate sales of $5.75 million and a projected increase in sales of $13.4 million.  In addition, reverse trade missions show the NDTO hosted 340 visitors from 21 countries with 108 companies participating.  Those reverse trade missions account for a reported immediate sales of $4.68 million and projected increase in sales of $10.86 million.  The NDTO is currently in the planning phase of trade mission trips to Ukraine, the Nordic countries, Indonesia & Vietnam, Ghana and China.  NDTO reverse missions include the Big Iron International Visitors Program, Nordic Countries, China, Turkey, Romania and Vietnam & Indonesia. 

Gorder closed the presentation saying while exports are strong the road ahead will be challenging given the current worldwide economic situation.  In the next biennium the NDTO budget will include additional funding for the resource management group, contracting with additional representatives overseas, increasing the number of reverse trade missions, enhancing student recruitment and export assistant program, upgrading information systems and to facilitate the development of logistics coordination services.

The NDTO had originally planned to hold a second meeting in Bismarck.  Out of respect for people fighting flooding there, that meeting was cancelled.