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Rep. Owens To Host Export Forum In Queensbury

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Small business owners in the Southern Adirondack region are gathering Friday to discuss ways to increase exports as a means of boosting the local economy.

Friday’s export forum is being hosted by Congressman Bill Owens. It will bring together both local business owners and government officials to answer questions and discuss ideas of how to attract and serve international customers.

“This event is intended to be a real hands-on, how-to-do-it experience,” said Owens. “We think it is critical that folks in the district get an understanding of the real nitty-gritty. This is not going to be a conceptual kind of event, this is going to talk to and about actual transactions.”

Owens said he organized the forum after speaking with Scott Schwartz, president of Hill Electric Supply Co. in Glens Falls.

Schwartz said he wanted to share how his firm started doing business in other countries with companies that may need some assistance.

“Until you’ve heard some of the different successes from other people you won’t necessarily know what the potential is, and we’re hoping Hill Electric can share our experiences, and hopefully that will get people thinking that it’s possible for to also export and grow their businesses.”

Besides Owens and Schwartz, other speakers will include small business owners and Cathy Gibbons, a trade specialist with the U.S. Department of Commerce, Dan Rickman, an economic development specialist with the U.S. Small Business Administration, and Steve Willard, senior vice president of New York Businesses Development Corporation.

Schwartz added that although he’s familiar with some of the speakers, he is hopeful the discussion will generate new ideas.

“Even though I’ve seen them before, when there’s questions asked form the audience you always learn new things,” said Schwartz. 

Owens, a Democrat who is retiring from representing the sprawling 21st district, says it doesn’t take any special government programs to help businesses realize new export potential, which he believes is limitless for the region.

“You may have the inventory sitting in your warehouse, but how do you get that inventory from your warehouse to Turkey? We think there’s a lot of opportunity out there, much more than people realize.  Without really making a major investment in a “export program,” this can just happen out of what you’re currently doing.”

In April, Owens joined U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand and Fred Hochberg, chairman of the Export-Import Bank of the U.S.in Ogdensburg to discuss ways businesses in Northern New York can take advantage by selling to Canada, and overseas.

Owens and Gillibrand also pushed to include language in the Farm Bill to make it easier for apple exports to move from the U.S. to Canada.

Friday’s forum, "New Markets, New Jobs: Practical Steps for Small Businesses to Grow through Exports” is at SUNY Adirondack from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. on Friday, June 13th.

RHEC 128, Regional Higher Education Building SUNY Adirondack
640 Bay Road, Queensbury, NY

Lucas Willard is a reporter and host at WAMC Northeast Public Radio, which he joined in 2011.
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