Small Businesses Exporting Products

By George C. Ford
The Gazette, Cedar Rapids, Iowa

WWR Article Summary (tl;dr)  Help is available for women in business who are considering exporting their products overseas. The U.S. Commercial Service, a division of the U.S. Department of Commerce, has 100 offices in U.S. embassies around the world that can provide services to potential exporters. Patricia Cook, director of the Des Moines, Iowa office says that if someone is looking for a distributor she can put them on a toll-free conference call with a U.S. embassy trade specialist. It could take just weeks for the owner of a small business to travel to a specific country, meet with a distributor and get their product on the shelves.


When Anna Sobaski launched Breads From Anna in 2004 after she was diagnosed with celiac disease, word spread fairly quickly on the Internet about the Iowa City company that develops and sells gluten- and allergen-free baking mixes.

“We have received requests from all over the world from the very beginning,” Sobaski said. “I’ve always been willing to ship directly to individuals.”

A number of Iowa small businesses are exploring international markets for their products and achieving success in places such as Dubai, England and New Zealand.

Businesses with fewer than 500 employees accounted for 83 percent of the 3,420 companies that exported from Iowa in 2013, the most recent year for which figures are available, according to the U.S. Department of Commerce International Trade Administration. Iowa companies exported $13.1 billion of merchandise in 2015.

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