Kansas’ first regional export plan helped hundreds of companies in the Wichita area enter new international markets during the past four years.
That overseas expansion generated $36 million in new exports and helped create more than 200 new jobs, according to a report from Kansas Global Trade Services, a Wichita-based trade advisory firm.
Kansas Global led the export plan, a coordinated effort to help Sedgwick County and nine surrounding counties grow and diversify exports. The plan was developed in 2014 and was funded and implemented from 2015 to 2019.
“It’s a scary thing to do something you've never done before. But our region did it, and we're thankful that they selected us to implement,” says Karyn Page, president and CEO of Kansas Global Trade Services. “And we're even more thankful that companies were so successful in using those services.”
The plan provided export assistance and support services to hundreds of companies.
Those companies established new businesses in more than 20 countries. Page says the plan’s results overall had a significant impact on the Wichita region.
“When we help companies grow, especially when we're looking at export growth because those are new dollars coming into our community, that kind of growth is one of the most important aspects that we can look at when we're looking at economic development,” Page says.
Kansas Global is asking the City of Wichita for funding to continue specific export support services.
“What we'll do is take the things that worked very best and we'll be asking the city to fund those specific activities,” Page says. “Think of a concentration of activities and services that produce the highest results.”
Wichita City Council member Jeff Blubaugh supports the plan and is recommending the city approve a contract with Kansas Global to continue export assistance services related to the plan.
“We want to prioritize small, local businesses. Funding export expansion and support services does that," he says. "Companies need education, connections and experts like Kansas Global to help accelerate and ensure their success in the global marketplace."
He says Kansas Global’s performance in the export plan met or exceeded the city’s expectations.
The regional export plan is the first in Kansas, and one of only 32 in the nation focused on strengthening international trade. It cost about $1.2 million to create and execute the plan.