As a turbulent year for trade comes to a close, it might seem hard to end on a positive note. NAFTA is under fire, the TPP is dead, Georgia’s exports declined this year and a strengthening dollar could mean headwinds for U.S. producers, even other trends point to a positive 2018 for the American economy.
But if you want a dose of optimism, look down — to the ground level, that is. Amid a tide of negative news and a near-constant climate of uncertainty in 2017, companies around Georgia plowed ahead with their global sales strategies, showing a resilience born of opportunism and necessity. They showed that while policy matters, it doesn’t always determine a company’s destiny.
From chocolate-making equipment, helicopter parts, craft beer, Bollywood films and travel software, the Georgia exporters profiled in this Export Stories report once again illustrate that the concept of global sales need not be limited to physical goods that traverse the world in boxes stacked high on ocean liners.
Industries like fintech and travel software can get into the game just as much as manufacturers, and the players aren’t just Fortune 500 companies who have it all figured out: With the right help, an unknown entity at home can become a premium brand abroad, where American products are still held in high regard.
One key resource for local companies, once again, was the Atlanta Metro Export Challenge, the sponsor of this report and its related Export Stories event held in October. Backed by a grant from JPMorgan Chase, as well as support from UPS and Partnership Gwinnett, the challenge is mainly administered by the Metro Atlanta Chamber as part of its outreach through the Global Cities Initiative.
Many of those profiled in this report were among the 28 winners of $5,000 grants to boost export sales; they’ll come back in the spring to pitch for $20,000. Initiatives like this show that the momentum — locally at least — is steadily moving toward international integration, but many Georgia companies still lack the confidence to jump on board the export train. Some are just plain unaware that the task is achievable for them.
That’s why we started with the first Export Stories in 2014. We hope that reading these testimonies of growth will inspire you to think about how your company can better avail itself of the promise — while avoiding the perils — of looking outside the U.S. Whether it results in pain or profit, we’ll be here next year to cover it.