Export Forum Benefits Berkshire Businesses

Jan 30, 2013

Pittsfield-area commercial leaders and experts participated in a forum Tuesday to discuss bringing their businesses to an international level. 

U.S. Representative Richard Neal said that the forum he organized for the business community in his new Congressional district is similar to forums he previously held in a former district closer to Boston. Neal said that across the Massachusetts have a significant potential for growth in a new global marketplace.

Panelists at the event, which was also organized through the Berkshire Chamber of Commerce, included individuals representing the U.S. Department of Commerce, the Massachusetts Export Center, statewide economic development organization MassDevelopment, and more. Some of the area’s leading employers also participated, including defense contractor General Dynamics and plastics-manufacturer SABIC.

Together, the experts and participants discussed a variety of topics related to doing international business, including government compliance, translation issues, marketing, and tariffs. Again, Congressman Neal…

Josh Levine, President of LympheDIVAs, a Pittsfield company that manufactures and sells compression sleeves to help treat symptoms commonly exhibited by breast cancer survivors, says that for his startup with less than ten employees, having a way to learn about ways the state and federal governments can assist with his international sales is critical towards the future growth of his business.

Levine served on one of the expert panels to help share his own company’s story, but said in the process he picked up a few things that he finds very useful.

Among some of the tools discussed by the panelists was the 2013 Massachusetts State Trade and Export Promotion Grant Program. The STEP Program, supported by federal dollars from the U.S. Small Business Administration, is administered by the Massachusetts Office of International Trade and Massachusetts Export Center to offer financial support to businesses looking to tap into international markets. Proceeds can be used for participation in international trade shows, business to business matchmaking services, translation and localization services, and more. The first deadline for the STEP Grants  is February 28th.

Michael Supranowicz, President and CEO of the Berkshire Chamber of Commerce, and head of the 1Berkshire Economic Development Agency, said that the a spirit of creativity not only drove the panel discussion, but also drives the Berkshire economy.