About a dozen community and business leaders attended a meeting at the Meridian Center Tuesday to learn more about global trade — and why exports are part of a health economy.
"Your future, as a company, is outside of the U.S.," said Karyn Paige, President and Chief Executive Officer of Kansas Global Trade Services.
She was armed with statistics to make that case.
For example, 95 percent of the world population lives outside of the United States. World trade has grown at more than twice the rate of the U.S. Economy since 1960.
And then there's the job creation number. Paige said every $1 billion on exports supports more than 6,000 jobs.
"We really are export dependent," Paige said.
She said historically the Wichita are generates about 50 percent of the state's exports — though in 2011 that number was about 35 percent and exports from Wichita have declined every year for four years running.
That trend is something she and her organization are concerned about — and working to change.
KGTS has secured a "Rural Business Opportunity Grant" from the U.S. Department of Agriculture to assist eight counties to expand to global markets. The organization has about $50,000 to work in Barton, Butler, Cowley, Harvey, McPherson, Osborne an Rawlins counties.
"We need to get to the small and medium companies outside of the metro area," Paige said.
Currently smaller companies generate 25 percent of the state's exports — she would like to see that expand.
And she believes making that expand will be the lifeblood of communities across the state of Kansas.
"When we export, it brings new dollars to a community," Paige said. "These are not recycled dollars from Oklahoma, Missouri or other parts of Kansas. They are new dollars to us."
KGTS will use the grant to help underwrite companies attempts to expand to international markets — assistance can include training, education for employees, assisting with trade policy compliance, identifying new buyers in new markets, global analysis for sales opportunities and a global scan of possible suppliers.
Each company wanting to make use of the grant must pay about 57 percent of the cost of those services — the remainder is paid through the grant fund.