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The Blue Economy connects foreign opportunities to US industry

Pursuing international markets in marine and maritime industries can be challenging. But with the right information, it can also be a profitable and sustainable business venture.

“US industry can be very competitive internationally,” said Henry Irizarry, director of international sales for Metal Shark Boats, Jeanette, La. “It’s all about finding the right niche and relentlessly pursuing what you’re best at.” Irizarry’s strategy has proven successful, and Metal Shark has landed more than $50 million in direct contracts with foreign buyers since 2015. Metal Shark also received the President’s E-Award in 2020, the highest national award for significant contributions to increasing US exports.

Like so many entrepreneurs in this industry, Irizarry will travel to Providence, RI, from Sept. 20-22, 2022, where he will take advantage of coordinated global business support provided by the US Commercial Service at this year’s Discover Global Markets: The Blue Economy — the Department of Commerce’s signature domestic forum focused on international business development for US exporters.

Jason Wilson, director of the US Commercial Service office in Houston is excited to engage with US industry about opportunities in the Blue Economy.

“Discover Global Markets: The Blue Economy isn’t a trade show or a conference. It’s a unique opportunity for US companies in key marine and maritime subsectors to gain access to actionable information, hone their market expansion strategies, and even land customers who are prime buyers that send American products or services internationally, all in one place and at a fraction of the cost of traveling abroad or buying booth space,” Wilson said. “We agree on this event annually and change the focus each year to a new, strategic industry sector. Our industry experts from foreign markets travel to one US location — this year in Rhode Island — and help produce real outcomes for exporters through structured dialogue and individual, prescheduled meetings.”

Foreign markets confirmed for the event so far stretch from India, Australia, Korea, and Japan to countries from Africa, Europe, and South and North America.

Bob Wetta is president of DSC Dredge, headquartered in Reserve, La., and distinguished by twice receiving the President’s E-Star Award for exporting excellence. He’s also a longtime member of the Louisiana District Export Council. District Export Councils are organizations of business leaders from local communities, appointed by various US Secretaries of Commerce, whose knowledge of and expertise in international business provides a source of professional advice for their region’s local firms.

“It’s easier for companies to stay 100% focused on their existing domestic customers,” Wetta said. “But we know statistically that diversification means resilience when markets downturn or supply chains disrupt. If you’re also in foreign markets, then your chances of business failure are at least 8-10% lower.”

“Looking at global market opportunities, 98% of the world’s consumers are outside of the US, so segmenting that, creating a plan, and pursuing new horizons with some guidance from experts along the way are the smartest moves,” Metal Shark’s Irizarry said. “That’s why I stay in touch regularly with my local office of the US Commercial Service, and that’s why I’m headed to Discover Global Markets this year.”

The US Commercial Service is the trade promotion arm of the US Department of Commerce’s International Trade Administration. It is represented nationally through a network of local offices across the country, and internationally with dedicated industry experts located at US embassies and consulates all over the world, delivering solutions together that benefit the bottom line of exporters’ economic interests.

John Henry Jackson serves as senior international trade specialist at the US Commercial Service office in New Orleans and leads the commercial marine sub-sector for the agency’s Marine Technology Global Industry team. “We’re accessible where you are domestically, we’re already where you want to be abroad, and we leverage that unique footprint to help US industry compete abroad. We move at the speed of business,” Jackson said. “Our staff works closely with exporting firms across the Gulf Coast and beyond. We leverage our sector-specific global industry teams to identify market demands, simplify complex issues and mobilize additional federal resources for trade advocacy and export promotion.”

Participants at prior Discover Global Markets forums have enjoyed the unsurpassed quality of business information, the events’ reasonable scale, and the emphasis on structured networking, which taken together can lead to new sales in strategic international markets:

Yang Clark of Bradley Corp. said the relationships he began at Discover Global Markets led to new sales in Kuwait and underpinned the company’s decision to operate a dedicated sales office for the Middle East.

After attending different iterations of Discover Global Markets, Bob Spence of Inter Asia Pacific and his client made the decision to jointly participate again after two Discover Global Markets experiences. Going together allowed them to make the most of all the market intelligence they gained in real time, and to quickly develop plans to pursue new opportunities. They weren’t disappointed, and still ranked it above trade shows in their industry for the people they met and the information they received.

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