What do Maine, International Trade, and Lobster have in common?
When one thinks of Maine, a few things come to mind: fresh lobster, cold winters, its beautiful coastline bordering the Atlantic Ocean. Next on the list: international trade? While it’s not currently the first thing to pop into the mind when thinking about Maine, that could soon change. Maine has a strong international trade center, aptly named the Maine International Trade Center (MITC), which was recently approved by the federal government to receive a grant of over $800K to promote exports from and attract foreign investment to Maine.
The U.S. Commerce Department’s Economic Development Administration announced recently that the grant will be issued to the Maine International Trade Center (MITC) and the Maine Department of Economic and Community Development to establish a “statewide ‘Invest in Maine’ program to attract foreign direct investment to the state.”
Why Was Maine Chosen?
There is no singular answer as to why the U.S. Commerce Department’s Economic Development Administration chose Maine out of all fifty states. However, statements from officials with the Economic Development Administration point cite a general policy towards increasing international trade and increasing foreign investment in the U.S. as well as a specific need to reignite Maine’s economy. The state’s economy has suffered due in large part to decreases in traditional manufacturing and an aging population.
We’re guessing that its coastal location and proximity to Canada didn’t hurt either. Those two factors help make Maine a viable future hub for international trade.
Where Will the Money Go?
One of the major programs the grant money will support is the continuation of a two-year pilot program in which MITC recently engaged. The program, which focused on advanced materials, was successful in reaching 112 international companies, resulting in 12 visits to Maine and 12 international trade proposals. The MITC hopes that with the increased funding from the grant it can expand the program to other key areas including renewable energy and aerospace and double the conversion rate.
What Else Should I Know?
In addition to promoting foreign direct investment, the Maine International Trade Center offers “financial support to Maine companies working internationally.” These funds can be used for a variety of purposes, including connecting businesses to other relevant businesses, funding interpreters and translators, and paying for trade show space at international shows. The MITC currently supports 70 Maine companies that have collectively had over $4.3 million in exports.
What if I Don’t Operate in Maine?
As is evident from the amount of money being invested in one grant alone, states and the federal government have a strong interest in promoting foreign direct investment in the U.S. as well as supporting U.S. companies that export or do business abroad. There are many different programs and funding opportunities available in all states, but you have to look for them. These programs may impact where you want to expand your operations.