Close this search box.

NDTO News Article

A New Year’s Message from Executive Director, Drew Combs

Happy New Year! I’d have to say for the North Dakota Trade Office (NDTO), it was a pretty good year. Three trade missions, multiple projects, a reverse mission, hundreds of visits by diplomats, business leaders, interested persons, and even some royalty. I love hearing from our guests that colleagues have told them the NDTO sets the bar on international engagement. Call it vanity or ego, but it is even better when it comes from our counterparts in other states! Numbers are still being gathered, but we are still on a nearly vertical trajectory.

2023 wasn’t all unicorns and rainbows; it reminded me of someone pushing the reset button. Wait, I take that back; it reminds me of someone holding their finger down on the reset button. We still see recovery and aspects of COVID-19 lingering in the background amidst a torrent of complex geopolitical issues coupled with recalibrations of alliances and trade agreements. While I certainly cannot see into the future, I am reasonably confident that the road through 2024 will still be rocky regarding those issues. Luckily, that rocky road is peppered with diamonds; you just need to kick a few rocks to find them. Adversity breeds opportunity, and the NDTO is kicking over rocks with you. Every day, I receive calls from around the world from people interested in business opportunities in ND.

In 2023, we supported hundreds of projects in all corners of the globe. Over half of those were recipients of grants administered or developed by the NDTO. Nearly four hundred thousand dollars and counting were utilized by North Dakota companies to expand their business internationally. Thank you to the North Dakota Department of Agriculture (NDDA) for entrusting us with the Specialty Crop Grant and the U.S. Small Business Administration for supporting ND Businesses with the State Trade Expansion Program (STEP). This year, we saw our self-funded ExportND program kick off with two award rounds, providing capital to many ND companies to enhance their global outreach.

A rocky road or not, we are excited about 2024 and have some exciting plans and events! One, ExporTech™, a quad partnership with Impact Dakota, U.S. Commercial Service, and the MEP National Network, is designed to elevate a company’s knowledge and export capabilities, applications are open now. In addition, you don’t want to miss our biennial Global Business Connections conference. If you are interested in how ND fits globally and want to expand your business internationally, you’ll not want to miss out on this event on May 15, 2024. Stay tuned to the newsletter and the NDTO website for trade and reverse trade mission updates; several are in the works, but one particularly big “Hope Diamond” (hint) is being planned for later in the year. I can’t give away the details quite yet, but constant pressure has lessened tariff issues that could be favorable to our state. We are also looking forward to many VIP guests planning official and discovery trips to our great state; a flood of them are coming, and we rely on all of you to help showcase the state and your company.

One additional announcement – in 2024,  we are moving! Upon completion, the NDTO will move the central office into the new Peltier Complex built on the NDSU campus. The product of our ongoing partnerships with the Northern Crops Institute (NCI), NDSU, and the NDDA, the move will expand our capabilities in fulfilling our duty to the state and our partners. We are very excited to be a part of this game-changing facility and humbled to have earned the trust of such admirable organizations.

Thank you all for your support through the years. Please let us know how we can help. Remember, your success is our success, and we fulfill our mission without you!

Best wishes and Semper Fi,