A little-known federal program intended to help small- and medium-sized businesses promote their products overseas could get a boost if approved by the U.S. Senate.

The Export Promotion Act, authored by U.S. Sens. Amy Klobuchar, DFL-Minn., and George LeMieux, R-Fla., is a part of a larger bill that should be approved by the U.S. Senate.

In these economic times in our nation, it only makes sense to connect with customers elsewhere. Klobuchar says more than 95 percent of the world’s customers are located outside the United States, and recently, 30 percent of U.S. businesses indicated that they would be interested in exporting but did not know where to begin.

The Klobuchar-LeMieux provisions will connect businesses with export promotion resources that will help them expand into new markets and increase their bottom line. The bill will restore staffing to 2004 levels in the Department of Commerce’s International Trade Administration, which has expertise in helping small businesses explore new markets abroad.

The legislation will also expand the outreach program through the Department of Commerce’s Rural Export Initiative to ensure that small and medium-sized businesses located in rural areas know about the export promotion services.

In 2006, the REI helped rural American businesses generate more than $183 million in exports with an investment of $860,000. That’s a return of about $213 for each $1 invested.

As Klobuchar has said, small businesses are the engines of job creation in Minnesota and across the nation. Increasing the customer base for these businesses by finding new markets can assist in the economic recovery we so very much need now.

How many Borderland business could benefit by exploring new markets outside the U.S.? In this case, what you don’t know could hurt you.

Submitted by Journal Staff