Small Business Administration encourages exports from Midwest

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- The federal Small Business Administration wants Midwestern companies to expand by selling outside the United States.

Many Missouri firms are seeking to export more of their products.

Creative Candles grew in part through the help of a Small Business Administration loan.

"What`s special about our product is a proprietary blend of waxes that really do have a performance difference to the customer," Keith Espelien said, owner of Creative Candles.

Ten workers at the company already make a product that sells across the globe.

But Espelien believes the new U.S.-Mexico-Canada Trade Agreement may open new doors for small firms like his to expand their business.

"Within some miles of the U.S. - Canadian border, for example, is the majority of the Canadian population," Espelien said. "So if we can get into those 10 to 15 miles effectively and compete effectively, that`s a nice market for us to have open to us."

Espelien said it's just as important to resolve trade disputes. He says he must buy glass jars for his candles from China, which currently carry a 10 percent tariff. A threatened increase to 25 percent may harm his company's ability to stay competitive.

"I think the President is working very hard, through U.S. Trade Representative Bob Lighthizer, to really negotiate a fair trade deal with China," Linda McMahon said, SBA Administrator. "He is working very hard to do that. He understands the value of small businesses and how tariffs may be hurting them, the imbalance of trade that's going on. A fair trade deal with China, that's what we will wind up with."

The Small Business Administration says it can help American firms develop marketing plans to boost exports and become part of trade shows.

According to the U.S. Commerce Department's international trade agency, more than 5,000 Missouri companies sell their goods outside of the United States, generating nearly $13-billion in exports.

In Kansas, more than 3,200 firms export nearly $9-billion worth of products.

Small businesses employ more than half the workforce in both Kansas and Missouri.

The Small Business Administration also provides low interest start up loans of up to $350,000 for firms that would like to sell internationally.

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