SALT LAKE CITY — Utah small businesses are getting a boost to promote international trade.
JPMorgan Chase & Co., World Trade Center Utah and Salt Lake County announced Wednesday the launch of the Utah Export Acceleration Grant at the Winter Innovation Summit — a meeting of policymakers and other leaders focused on enhancing social impact around the world. The grant will help local companies with funding to offset the costs associated with global expansion, said Derek Miller, president and chief executive officer of World Trade Center Utah.
The agency will be tasked with managing the $200,000 contribution from JPMorgan Chase & Co., making grant awards of up to $10,000, he said.
“(The funds) are for us to make small grant awards to small- and medium-sized businesses in order for them to increase their capacity to do international business,” Miller said. “We think it’s a great way for Utah to continue its successes in international business.”
Global trade is an important segment of the state economy, he noted. In 2015, Utah shipped $13.3 billion in goods internationally — up 9 percent from the prior year, Miller said. The grant awards will provide access to resources companies need to begin exporting for the first time or spread into new international markets, he added.
“We support initiatives that provide opportunities for businesses striving to take their products and services to international markets,” said Craig Zollinger, managing director for JPMorgan Chase in Salt Lake City. “It’s this type of grant that can transform small businesses, and we view this as a critical step in providing a successful framework as it relates to export acceleration.”
Recently, World Trade Center Utah and Salt Lake County partnered with JPMorgan Chase & Co. and the Brookings Institution, based in Washington, D.C., on the Global Cities Initiative — a five-year plan to help U.S. metro areas reposition their local economies for enhanced engagement in global markets. The result of the collaboration was a strategy to increase exports in the Salt Lake Valley, and this new initiative will continue that effort, Salt Lake County Mayor Ben McAdams said.
“Salt Lake County is primed for a new era of economic development, which includes focusing on global opportunities,” he said. “This generous grant will help kick-start our regional export plan and will lead to more hiring by businesses that are serving global customers.”
Funds from the grant must be used to pay for services or resources that help the recipient’s company grow internationally, such as legal and consulting work, funding for international market research, costs of translation services or trade mission funding, Miller explained.
Applications are available online at the World Trade Center Utah website, with submissions reviewed on an ongoing basis, he said.
“Companies in Utah are well-positioned for international expansion, and this grant will provide the means for them to get the help they need,” Miller said.
Meanwhile, the new grant comes during the same week President Donald Trump signed an executive order withdrawing the United States from the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a global trade agreement between 12 countries. Miller said Utah is among a few states that stand to lose economically from the executive action.
“We’re one of only eight states to see an increase in exports (in 2016),” he said. “It would be bad for Utah and the United State to take a protectionist position against the world.”
He said Utah could show other states a prime example of how to be successful and competitive in the global marketplace. Among the primary strategies would be to retrain workers who “have been left behind” by the tech economy.
“If there are people who were trained in a certain trade and that trade — for whatever reason — can’t land them a job because those jobs are gone, then they have opportunities to be retrained,” Miller said. “They can be trained in areas where we see job growth, such as advanced manufacturing, life sciences or information technology.”
He said the best way to mitigate the current national trade situation is to learn to better manage the challenging issues, rather than move to an isolationist strategy.
“The answer is to retrain, not to retreat,” Miller said.