Earlier this month, the U.S. Association of Small Business Development Centers (ASBDC) held its annual conference in New Orleans, and Deputy Assistant U.S. Trade Representative for Small Business Christina Sevilla was on hand to highlight some of the early successes of the Obama Administration’s Small Business Network of the Americas (SBNA) initiative. The SBNA seeks to link U.S. Small Business Development Centers (SBDCs) and the clients they serve to similar small business support centers and networks in partner countries through online trade platforms and business competitions.
Taking a key step forward, representatives from the ASBDC, the University of Texas San Antonio Institute for Economic Development, and Brazil's Micro and Small Enterprise Service (SEBRAE) signed a Memorandum of Understanding to link their trade platforms and clients on a central website (www.SBDCglobal.com). This platform is expanding to include international SBDCs in Mexico, Central America, Colombia, and the Caribbean, and will help small businesses take better advantage of trade agreements between the United States and countries in the region.
Deputy Assistant U.S. Trade Representative Christina Sevilla speaks to the U.S.
Association of Small Business Development Centers International Interests section
Precision 2000, a small general contracting and construction management business based in Atlanta, Georgia, is already benefitting from these new developments. Precision 2000’s CEO, Guiomar Obregon, received strategic advice and export counseling from Rick Martin and Antonio Barrios of the Georgia SBDC network at University of Georgia and Kennesaw State University. Obregon and her workforce have used this guidance to actively pursue construction contracts in the Colombian market, and she anticipates that contracts secured for construction services in Colombia will help Precision 2000 support jobs in Georgia.
Mickey Conway, a Colombian-American business development specialist at the Clemson University SBDC at Greenwood, is also looking to use the SBNA to help U.S. small businesses expand to Latin America. He hopes that “the expansion of the SBDC network to Latin America can create new business contacts for South Carolina companies.” Conway is organizing a visit to Colombia, the United States’ newest trade agreement partner, by a delegation of South Carolina and Arkansas SBDC counselors and small businesses owners, who hope to explore and pursue trade opportunities there.