NDTO News Article

Reconnecting at Global Business Connections

Global Business Connections (GBC) was created as an opportunity to bring together ND’s exporters– which can certainly be a challenge for this globe-trotting bunch! The goal is to connect locally and expand globally, gaining insights as to what others are doing right and how we can see our businesses through a different lens. A culmination of over 100 ND exporters, government, business professionals, and more joined the event.  

With so much change in the global landscape, it was important to gather and connect with old friends and develop some new ones. If you missed the event or want a recap, here are some of the highlights..

The opening keynote delivered by  Natsuyo Lipschutz brought introspection as we learned about cultural missteps and the spectrum of low to high-context situations. Throughout this session, her own experience and blunders were peppered in to normalize the very real possibility of making mistakes when communicating cross-culturally. She emphasized how to take on the challenge of working with other cultures and observing our own cultural tendencies and assumptions.   This session brought about many questions with an audience full of engaged learners.

The morning sessions brought topics on economics perspectives from Wells Fargo’s Sarah House, whose data-driven presentation sparked many great conversations on the changing landscape of exports. A panel on Opportunities in Africa moderated by NDTO’s own Drew Combs, had an honest discussion with Heather Ranck of the US Commercial Service, Delore Zimmerman of Praxis Africa, and Alex Cyusa of Weather Modification, all of whom have worked extensively in Africa. Kermit Nash and Sandy Bilus of Saul Ewing Arnstein & Lehr hosted a conversation on cybersecurity topics and how they impact business. Michale Hirou of Tractus Aisa provided ND-specific market analysis on Asia.

Lt. Governor Sanford presented the 2021 Global Business Awards highlighting three inspiring stories that exemplify what it is to be a top exporter in ND.. Congratulations to the 2021 ND Exporter of the Year, Adams Family Farms. Adams Family Farm incorporates many new ideas and processes for the operation’s future. The leadership has ‘a do more with less’ mentality to increase efficiency, safety, and yields. This model has helped them bridge the gap between consumers and producers and become more creative with exporting and experimentation.

The 2021 ND Service to Exporters award was presented to the Rural Export Center. More often, it is challenging for rural companies to access resources to support trade, and this program breaks down those barriers. Their signature research provides a comprehensive look into market potential with a customized approach based on the companies’ objectives.

Tom Shorma, President of WCCO Belting, was the proud recipient of the Global Ambassador Award for his dedication to the North Dakota Trade Office and continued efforts to push exporters forward. As a business leader in North Dakota, Shorma and WCCO Belting are actively engaged in global pursuits, exporting to more than 20 countries across the globe, and has been awarded both President of the United States’ E- Award for Excellence and E-Star Award.

The afternoon continued with an engaging panel discussion on transportation moderated by Bob Sinner of SB&B Foods. ND Commerce Commissioner James Leiman, Jonathan Lamb of Lake Superior Warehousing, and Amy McBeth of BNSF Railways all provided their insights on the issues. This discussion brought light to many questions and concerns that ND exporters are facing as a result of the current supply chain issues.

Rounding the day off, Howard Dahl, President of Amity Technology, provided some interesting context on doing business with Russia and Ukraine, integrated with the complexities of exporting. Part history lesson, part how-to guide, Dahl, with more than 40 years of exporting experience, laid out some honest truths for the exporters in the room.

By the end of the day, many were hesitant to leave as good conversation flowed with new topics and new insights for exporters and beyond. It was an excellent opportunity to reconnect with the many who came to GBC, and the NDTO team is grateful for the continued discussion and how we can help support your global exports. Thank you to the many who brought their insights, expertise, and questions to the table so we can all continue to learn from each other. We hope to see you at the next GBC!