The University of Georgia’s Small Business Development Center opened doors to the world for Carl Hazenberg.
His company, Everlast Synthetic Products, saw its sales of seawall materials and services increase by as much as 40 percent after the SBDC’s International Trade Center helped it expand exports.
“We’d probably be floundering without the SBDC,” said Hazenberg, who was named Georgia Exporter of the Year by the Small Business Administration in 2016. “That business may not have happened. They helped us understand tariffs and what it takes to do business in other countries. It’s like having my own consulting company internationally when I need it.”
Hazenberg isn’t alone. The SBDC’s contribution to a growing sector of the Georgia economy earned it the Advancing International Trade State Award for Georgia from the National Association of Small Business International Trade Educators in March.
“We’re very focused on how we’re helping Georgia small businesses,” said Rick Martin, director of the SBDC International Trade Center. “It’s nice for an outside organization to recognize we’re having that impact. It validates our mission.”
Today, Georgia has 14,000 companies exporting goods and services with a sales value of $35.5 billion, a 52 percent increase over the last decade. Martin and his colleagues have contributed to that growth through training programs like ExportGA, an intensive four session, 16 hour training program which allows export-ready companies to develop their skills, as well as a monthly program in Atlanta that covers key topics on successfully developing an import/export business.
The award, given to only a few states each year, is like a lifetime achievement for the SBDC and its work in international trade.
“I think it’s always nice to be recognized by your peers,” said Darrel Hulsey, a consultant with the SBDC International Trade Center. “This is the ultimate recognition from our peer group.”
The UGA SBDC was one of the first states to open an international trade division in 1978. Six states, including Georgia, had an international office by 1985. In addition to ExportGA, the SBDC developed Export-U, a free, online training program which has been supported and promoted by the U.S. Department of Commerce.
Writer: Christopher James, email@example.com, 706-542-3631