Working constructively and collaboratively with federal, state, regional, and university stakeholders, the CCEDC is charged with developing a Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) strategy for Chippewa County that focuses on expanding our local trading relationships, promoting expansion projects, and assisting with identifying potential supply chain relationships. In 2018, in an effort to accelerate exports for Chippewa Valley companies and to expand growth industry clusters in the area, the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh and the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation collaborated to provide a $75,000 grant to CCEDC.

“By receiving the exporting grant through UW-Oshkosh, CCEDC was able to utilize consultants, programs, and attend events to help local companies like [Barron County Cheese] Gene’s to get the programs and resources they need to diversify their sales portfolio.” says Charlie Walker, President and CEO of CCEDC.

CCEDC established the Business Retention Exporting Program with the goal of marketing Chippewa County as an investment destination and identifying gaps in the local economy that might be filled by foreign investment.

Since instituting the Business Retention Exporting Program, Wisconsin’s exports grew 6.1%. In 2018, companies in Wisconsin exported $22.7 billion from the state (U.S. Census Bureau), so the collective efforts of Wisconsin Economic Development partners to increase exports is working.

For example, Barron County Cheese was one of our local companies who reached out to CCEDC to learn more about exporting. The CCEDC introduced the company to UW-Stout’s Export Tech Program. Through this Export Tech program, the company learned that any company could export its products—regardless of size.

During the training, Gene Graf, Chief Operating Officer of Barron County Cheese, discovered how to find crucial information pertaining to exporting and the available programs and support to local organizations seeking an international client base.

“Because we are now an Export Tech graduate, we are qualified for grants and other support programs that will assist us in reaching our goals,” Graf explained. In fact, the company already received $3,000 towards the program itself and a $25,000 grant to cover future exporting costs. Graf and his team are excited about the ample business-building opportunities in the area provided by CCEDC. “Chippewa County Economic Development Corporation offers an abundance of resources and beneficial information to assist businesses in all areas,” he said. “Charlie Walker and the CCEDC are constantly working to provide crucial information to assist in the success of businesses throughout the local and state arena,” Graf continued. “Finally, CCEDC has been an advocate and a voice in the highly-needed area of resources that provide business opportunities to flourish and grow.”

“By receiving the exporting grant through UW-Oshkosh, CCEDC was able to utilize consultants, programs, and attend events to help local companies like Gene’s to get the resources they need to diversify their sales portfolio” says Charlie Walker, President and CEO of CCEDC.

Events inspired by CCEDC’s Business Exporting Program take place continuously throughout the year. One such event took place on Friday, March 22, 2019: “Discover Export Opportunities in UK and France – Learn the Potential Impact of Brexit.” where CCEDC, in collaboration with WEDC, hosted Ms. Terry Potter, Trade Director of the International Trade Development Group (IDTG). She lead the discussion with over a dozen companies to discover the export opportunities and advantages in the United Kingdom and France. Ms. Potter explained how these sophisticated and diversified markets are important for Wisconsin exporters. Attendees gained valuable insights about Wisconsin firms already doing business in the region, as well as firms exploring the prospects for future business in both countries. “Exporting has become an important way for companies to diversity and expand their business.” stated Ms. Potter as she covered the latest market developments. She added, “The UK is OPEN for business and looking to enhance global trade relationships. Shipments to the European country increased 17.6%, roughly $122 million-$814 million.”

Attendees learned that Canada remained the top destination for Wisconsin products in 2018, up 1.7% to $7.03 billion in goods. While shipments to Mexico also increased 8% to $3.5 billion, keeping it as the number two. China remained 3rd despite a nearly $100 million drop in exports to $1.6 billion. Germany was the biggest mover among the top export destinations, going from the seventh to fourth largest export destination. Other top 20 Wisconsin export countries with double-digit percentage increases in exports included South Korea, the Netherlands, Brazil, Italy, Thailand and Taiwan. There is no doubt that Chippewa Valley companies are, more than ever, discovering the advantages of exporting their products and diversifying their sales stream.