The Pennsylvania Small Business Development Centers are inviting small businesses with export potential to join a trade mission to Panama and Colombia this summer.
The mission will take place June 23-29, according to a news release. Participating companies are eligible for up to $5,000 in reimbursement for their costs through the Pennsylvania Global Access Program.
Funding is provided in part through a U.S. Small Business Administration State Trade and Export Promotion grant made to the state Department of Community and Economic Development.
There is enough funding to cover 10 companies, SBDCs spokeswoman Kelly Cofrancisco said. Funding is first-come, first-served, she said.
The SBDCs are handling preparation and logistics and coordinating the mission. They are holding several seminars for potential participants, including one from 9 a.m. to noon March 14 at the Kutztown University SBDC at 3211 N. Front St. in Harrisburg.
The economies of Panama and Colombia are both growing briskly, the SBDCs said. Panama is the second-largest free-trade zone in the world, while Pennsylvania exports to Colombia grew 138 percent between 2005 and 2010, they said.
The SBDCs expanded their export assistance to small business last spring through a partnership with the U.S. Commercial Service, which has offices at U.S. embassies worldwide. U.S. Commercial Service staff in Columbia, Panama and Pennsylvania are eager to help the commonwealth’s companies, Mid-Atlantic Regional Director Joe Hanley said in a statement.
“This trade mission is a perfect example of seamless federal-state cooperation,” Hanley said.
Among other things, the Commercial Service will conduce premission evaluations of interested companies to see how well their products and services match Columbian and Panamanian market opportunities and to make sure the trade mission would be worth their while, Cofrancisco said.