Blog post by Kelly M. Schulz
Kelly M. Schulz brings a wealth of knowledge to the Maryland Department of Commerce from her years of experience working in the government, in the private sector and as a small business owner. She had previously served as the Secretary of the Maryland Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation (DLLR) since her confirmation in February 2015 and is also a former member of the Maryland House of Delegates. She was appointed Secretary of the Maryland Department of Commerce in January 2019.
Today, our world is increasingly interconnected and globally focused. I was amazed to see a recent statistic that stated that more than 95 percent of the world’s consumers and 70 percent of the global purchasing power lies beyond the U.S. borders.
At the Maryland Department of Commerce, we recognize the importance of thinking globally and know that there are tremendous opportunities for companies that are looking to expand their reach to new international customers. While Maryland has a robust and vibrant business community with more than 900 foreign-based companies, it’s surprising that only a small percentage of the state’s total number of companies actually take that leap and export overseas.
Whether it’s the potential risk involved with expanding a business globally or just not knowing how to navigate what might be very different foreign trade and investment practices, Maryland Commerce, working with a number of federal and higher education partners, is here to help.
One of Maryland Commerce’s most popular and successful programs is ExportMD, which offers matching grants up to $5,000 to help small and mid-sized Maryland companies market their products and services to global customers. The program, now in its 20th year, has helped hundreds of local companies boost their sales and diversify their customer base. We have been fortunate to receive funding for this program for the past five years through the U.S. Small Business Administration’s State Trade Expansion Program (STEP).
The grants have been instrumental in helping many Maryland companies join with Maryland Commerce to attend international trade shows they otherwise might not have been able to afford. In FY 2018, we led delegations to many of the world’s key trade shows, including aerospace, defense, and security trade shows in the U.K. (Infosecurity), Singapore (Air Show), Mexico (Expo Seguridad) and South Africa (Aerospace and Defense Show), as well as health care trade shows in Germany (Medica) and UAE (Arab Health).
And our companies are seeing results. As a result of the grants, as well as the expert guidance our Commerce international representatives can provide, the Maryland companies that we assisted reported more than $117 million in export sales in FY 2018.
For companies that are considering entering the global marketplace but may need help with research or solving a challenge, I would encourage you to apply for the Global Consulting Program run by Maryland Commerce in partnership with the Center for International Business Education and Research (CIBER) at the Robert H. Smith School of Business at the University of Maryland, College Park. This program gives Maryland companies access to Smith School MBA or undergraduate student teams that provide as many as 10 hours per week of consulting per semester on a project.
Through Maryland’s 16 foreign offices and our Office of International Investment and Trade, we have a number of dedicated staff to help your business take that next step to becoming global. I encourage you to check out the many resources Maryland Commerce offers, and connect with us to see how we can help.