The Atlanta Metro Export Challenge has returned yet again this year, increasing the number of recipients of the $5,000 first-round grant funding to 30.
The awardees were announced Monday by ORBATL, an entity created to bring together a group of local organizations and trade resources to help (mainly) small and medium-sized companies looking to expand their export sales.
First-round winners will be invited back for a pitch session that will enable them to qualify for grants of $20,000, $10,000 and $5,000 in a second round. In the past, pitches have been open to the current- and prior-year winners.
While the challenge was open to companies from all of the metro area’s 29 counties, companies awarded represented seven: Fulton, Gwinnett, Cobb, Coweta, Forsyth, Bartow and Fayette. See the full list of grant recipients here
They were split into two categories: existing exporters looking to expand their global sales operations, or those hoping to break into international markets for the first time.
For the purposes of the challenge, exports weren’t too narrowly defined: Winners’ offerings range from services like Skillshot Media’s e-sports competition platform and Universal VAT Services’ system to collect value-added taxes, to physical products like Tecme Corp.’s medical devices, Goza’s tequila and Livful’s mosquito repellent. Industries were as varied as aviation, information technology, fintech and more. Female and minority owners were well-represented, and diversity was part of the judging process.
ORBATL was born out of the Brookings Institution’s Metro Export Plan, which was administered mainly by the Metro Atlanta Chamber with the help of other partners under the Global Cities Initiative umbrella.
JPMorgan Chase, which has backed the initiative since its inception in 2013 and has doled out $400,000 directly to exporters in the last two years alone, is once again contributing the $100,000 for the challenge. Georgia Department of Economic Development and the City of Atlanta are also engaged in this year’s process. Other financial backers include United Parcel Service Inc., Partnership Gwinnett and newcomer Johnson Controls.
The latter company’s participation shows how the challenge can lead to tangible results for smaller Atlanta firms that expand their global footprint. Johnson Controls acquired last year’s pitch-day winner, Triatek Holdings, which took home $20,000 in addition to the first-round $5,000.
The company’s international sales in places like Saudi Arabia, largely enabled by the grant’s travel reimbursements, helped make it a more viable acquisition target, Triatek CEO Jim Hall said last year. Another first-round winner, Car360, was acquired by Carvana.
Enabling travel was one of the most common uses of the funds last year, but companies also used the funds to translate sales materials into other languages or pay entry fees for trade shows.
But most valuable might be the export ecosystem to which the grant process connects companies.
“We believe that the program is a major gateway to the international market for companies in the region, because it does not only provide financial support but also connects them to an abundance of resources in metro Atlanta,”’ said Robert Long, vice president of Cumming-Forsyth County Chamber of Commerce.
Not only are companies asked to think strategically about their global goals even at the beginning of the process, but they’re also pointed to various resources, service providers, government entities and more that can help carry them out, sometimes free of charge.
According to the Metro Atlanta Chamber, Atlanta lags other cities in terms of exports as a percentage its overall regional economy, a metric Brookings calls “export intensity.” The city ranks No. 65 in that regard, showing ample room to improve. That’s up from No. 75 when the process started five years ago.
Overall, Atlanta is No. 14 among U.S. metropolitan areas by value of its exported goods and services. Helping small business is vital, as exporting can boost companies’ resilience and open new revenue streams. Small companies are lessl likely to engage than those with entire departments devoted to global sales. Research shows that exporting firms are more likely to stay in business and to pay higher wages. Each billion dollars in exports is said to underpin 5,800 U.S. jobs.
30 grant winners include:
|Company Name||County||Industry Sector|
|AeroSafe Products, Inc||Gwinnett||Aviation|
|Agri International LLC||Cobb||Agriculture|
|AKESOgen||Gwinnett||Bioscience & Healthcare|
|Alexander Babbage Inc.||Fulton||IT and Internet Services|
|Americo Manufacturing LLC||Bartow||Manufacturing|
|Atlantic Pacific Agricultural Co. Inc.||Fayette||Manufacturing (Agriculture)|
|Black Mermaid’s Handcrafted Soaps and Products dba Black Mermaid’s Bathh and Body||Gwinnett||Manufacturing / Consumer Goods|
|Brandon Hall Schooll||Fulton||Edducation|
|Compass Tehcnology Group LLC||Fulton||Technology|
|DataSeers||Fulton||IT and Internet Services|
|Delta Sigma Company||Cobb||Manufacturing (AI)|
|Discover Destinations||Gwinnett||Hospitality and Tourism|
|Enviropak LLC dba Enviropouch||Fayette||Medical Devices|
|Eva Jane Beauty LLC||Fulton||Consumer Goods and Services|
|Florence Healthcare||Fulton||IT and Internet Services|
|Georgia Maternal Fetal Specialists dba Women’s Telehealth||Fulton||Bioscience & Healthcare|
|Goza Tequila||Fulton||Consumer Goods and Services|
|Livful||Forsyth||Bioscience & Healthcare|
|LTL IT||Gwinnett||IT and Internet Services|
|Maria Beug-Deeb Inc., dba T&M Associates||Fulton||
Business and Professional Services
|Micro C Imaging||Fulton||Bioscience & Healthcare|
|MuniRem Environmental LLC||Gwinnett||Utilities and Environment|
|Poriferous LLC||Coweta||Medical Devices|
|Quantum Pharmaceutical Supply & Services LLC||Forsyth||Bioscience & Healthcare|
Sports and Entertainment (E-Sports)
|Tecme Corporation||Gwinnett||Medical Devices|
|Universal VAT Services||Fulton||Finance and Insurance|