FRANKFORT, Ky. – Kentucky small businesses will soon have another opportunity to take their products global. Governor Steve Beshear today announced he will lead a Kentucky Export Initiative (KEI) trade mission to Canada.
The trade mission, set for May 25-30, will focus on increasing commerce and building relationships between Kentucky’s small businesses and the Canadian market. The KEI delegation will make stops in Ottawa, Montreal and Toronto.
“Canada is the largest destination for Kentucky-made products, but there are many additional opportunities for our small businesses to build partnerships with our neighbors to the north,” said Gov. Beshear. “This trade mission will give Kentucky businesses the opportunity to have one-on-one meetings, form relationships to increase sales and explore international markets.”
Canada is home to one of the world’s largest economies and is Kentucky’s largest trade partner. The Commonwealth exported more than $7.6 billion in products and services to Canada last year. Top exports include motor vehicles, auto parts and aerospace products.
Kentucky exports to Canada have played a key role in boosting the Commonwealth’s economy. In 2014, Kentucky’s exports of products and services to Canada generated $4.3 billion for Kentucky’s GDP and supported more than 51,000 jobs in the state.
The mission follows another record export year for Kentucky. Exports of Kentucky-made products and services during 2014 totalled $27.5 billion. Kentucky exported to 191 nations last year.
The visit will be KEI’s second trade mission to Canada in the past three years. Gov. Beshear also led a delegation to the United Kingdom last spring.
Companies encouraged to register now
Companies interested in participating in the trade mission should act quickly due to limited spacing. Grant funding to help offset the cost of the trip is available to small businesses that qualify.
“This is a great opportunity for participants to network with international government and industry leaders,” said Larry Hayes, secretary of the Cabinet for Economic Development. “We’ve seen dozens of Kentucky small businesses take their operations to the next level as a result of previous trade missions, and we expect even more success this year.”
Debra Dudley, president of Oscarware Inc. in Hart County, participated in last year’s trade mission and is seeing very positive results.
“The trade mission afforded me the opportunity to grow my business and showcase a product that people outside the U.S. weren’t familiar with,” she said. “It’s such a unique opportunity to expand your business on a global scale, which isn’t always easy for a small company to do. Participating in a trade mission is like having the red carpet rolled out for your business.”
For more information and to register, visit www.kyexports.com.
Information on Kentucky’s economic development efforts and programs is available at www.ThinkKentucky.com. Fans of the Cabinet for Economic Development can also join the discussion on Facebook or follow on Twitter. Watch the Cabinet’s “This is My Kentucky” video on YouTube.