Gainesville’s businesses may soon be sending its local flair around the world.
The Gainesville Area Chamber of Commerce will be opening an international trade office on Dec. 3. The office will offer consulting services for businesses that want to export its products abroad.
“International trade has just exploded over the last 20 to 30 years,” said University of Florida business professor Larry DiMatteo.
Most of the burdens and risks of trading internationally have been drastically reduced, he said. If a foreign buyer doesn’t pay for a product, for example, there are various options a business can use to recover the payment.
The office will be located at the chamber, at 300 E. University Ave., and consultants will meet with businesses once a month.
Consultations will be provided in coordination with Enterprise Florida, the state’s official economic development organization, and the United States Commercial Service.
Gainesville’s businesses have shown interest in expanding to foreign markets but aren’t sure how to do so, said Staci-Ann Bertrand, the chamber’s director of industry development.
“It seems complicated to do,” she said, “and the resources haven’t been there.”
The chamber decided to create the service as part of an initiative to increase exports from Gainesville. The portion of the city’s gross domestic product that currently goes to exports is 3.2 percent, Bertrand said. The average percentage of exports for an area the size of Gainesville is 5.5 percent.
“We would like to see it at that or above,” she said.
Local manufacturers with a good customer base will benefit most from expanding to international trade, she said.
She expects businesses in industries such as medical technology, information technology and biotechnology to be the most likely to use the service.
The expansion of local businesses would ultimately help Gainesville, DiMatteo said.
Instead of having 50 employees, foreign demand could help a business expand to 500 or even 1,000 employees. Exports and more jobs to create those products will benefit the economy as a whole, he said.
“Instead of money going out, money’s going in,” he said.
The service will be free to use by any interested business. The chamber hopes that businesses that appreciate the service will become members, she said.
“It will allow our business community to have a unique competitive advantage throughout the state,” she said.