State creates directory for exportersBy WALTER C. JONES
Morris News Service
ATLANTA — Georgia companies looking for more customers will soon have another way to search for them when the state Department of Economic Development flips the switch sending its new export directory online.
It’s designed to meet the demand of foreign companies who frequently ask the state about import opportunities, according to Kathe Falls, the department’s director of international trade.
For example, a company that distributes automobile wiring harnesses for European makes may be searching for American models. A recent trade delegation from China, though, simply wanted to know about opportunities in the broader field of agricultural products.
Last year, the department hosted 44 delegations from 55 countries.
Georgia companies large and small are eligible to advertise their products and services for free on www.georgiaexportdirectory.com or buy an ad to make a bigger splash. They don’t have to currently export, but they have to be in business and more than just a concept, Falls said.
The only other requirement is a promise to follow up on all inquiries.
The department’s staff will provide free guidance to help companies make deals with importers and begin overseas trading.
Georgia has about 10,000 companies that currently export.
The department has only signed up a fraction of them for the directory so far by contacting them from lists generated by other organizations.
“We have 544 signed up with about three more days for the activation process. This is a good number based on our history with email activations,” Falls said.
The searchable directory is modeled on one Florida has operated for several years.
Tracking Georgia’s success won’t be easy since inquiries will go directly to the exporters rather than through the department.
Falls hopes to see evidence of it indirectly in the volume of the state’s exports and the number of deals the department helps arrange.
Last year, the department reports working on 360 projects, a 6-percent increase from the prior year.