"They point out that going abroad has actually been a good thing for them, that it has been a source of growing sales, and furthermore, they also add that it has been beneficial to them even in their domestic economy," he said.
That's been the story for NanoLumens, a rapidly growing company in Norcross that makes light, energy-efficient and customizable LED displays for networks, retail outlets and more.
Competing in countries where the LED industry is well-entrenched has forced the company to concentrate on the processes and services that differentiate it. That has led to better products and a leaner operation in the United States.
"By understanding what our customers want worldwide we're able to provide a solution not only for today but also for the future," said Karen Robinson, executive vice president in charge of business development. NanoLumens, one of three Atlanta companies visited on the roadshow, has sold displays in places like Brazil and the Middle East, but also in LED hotbeds like Japan and China.
The center's benchmarking survey showed that companies "bullish" on global markets like NanoLumens projected 5.6 percent revenue growth compared to 4.3 percent for purely domestic firms. They also planned to hire at a faster rate.
The survey revealed other positive outcomes, including the fact that confidence surged in the construction, manufacturing and services sectors as they related to the global economy.
But domestic concerns could weigh on growth overall.
Nine out of 10 executives worried about uncertainty around the implementation of health-care reform in the United States, while others feared that the Federal Reserve's moves to cull its bond-purchasing program would send interest rates up, resulting a credit crunch that could adversely impact middle-market companies.
The National Center for the Middle Market aims to shed light on the role middle-market companies play in the economy. Numbering about 200,000, they lack the lobbying budgets of the multinational giants and the numerical strength of the 6 million small businesses, but they account for about one-third of U.S. economic output.
The roadshow visit to Atlanta included a stop at Triumph Motorcycles, a historic British firm with sales operations near Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport. It also visited NanoLumens and GSC Packaging.
To read results of the second-quarter survey, click here.
For more on the roadshow, visit http://roadshow.slate.com/tag/atlanta/
For the full report on globalization of U.S. middle-market companies, click here.