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Participants Gather Following Successful Workshop to Provide Companies the Tools to Access Export Markets

For three months this year, senior executives with five Hampton Roads companies underwent an intensive program aimed at developing a plan to sell their product or service to overseas markets.

The program, co-facilitated by Old Dominion's Technology Application Center (part of the University's Center for Enterprise Innovation), comprised the first group of Virginia companies to complete the U.S. Department of Commerce's ExporTech program.

At a social Dec. 1 at Old Dominion University, participants expressed how fortunate they were to participate in the inaugural Virginia program.

"It was a fantastic experience," Mike Smack, CEO of Mission Mobility, said during the reception at Old Dominion University's Baron & Ellin Gordon Art Galleries. "Being in the room, these intensive sessions, with five companies doing completely different things made for an incredible learning experience as we worked through problems together."

Smack said Mission Mobility is seeking to reorient away from military clients for its product, mobile technology solutions for remote locations. For that reason, the support and resources that Mission Mobility could access through ExporTech made it a one-of-a-kind experience. "We are just so thankful for the opportunity, and for Old Dominion University's role in facilitating it."

The four other local companies who took part in the three-month ExporTech program were Descal-A-Matic, Inc., Grandwatt Electric Corporation, Netarus and Paramount.

"The success of this program comes from bringing together federal, state and local resources to provide focused support for the participating companies," said J.C. Brinker, associate director of the Old Dominion University Business Gateway, which administers services and programs offered under the Center for Enterprise Innovation, including the Technology Application Center.

"The expertise we can provide, or link these companies to, can help them be competitive in a global marketplace, and in turn, help the Hampton Roads economy," he said.

After three months of training, research, planning and coaching, each participating company completed and presented a detailed plan for the countries in which they plan to grow their export business. They pitched to a panel of company experts from local practicing export companies, as well as the other members in the cohort, where they were peppered with questions and offered advice and recommendations on implementing their plans to achieve the growth they are anticipating by their international expansion.

Among the federal and Virginia partners who contributed to ExporTech are the U.S. Department of Commerce, the National Institute of Standards and Technology's Manufacturing Extension Partnership, the U.S. Export Assistance Office, Virginia's Genedge Alliance and the City of Norfolk's Department of Economic Development.

As well, several local professional and business volunteers offered their services as mentors and resource providers for the ExporTech client companies.

With this cohort, Virginia becomes the 31st state to participate in the ExporTech program since it was launched in 2007. To date, more than 700 companies have leveraged this program to rapidly expand their global sales.

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