Dozens of local companies congregated at Kalahari Resorts and Conventions in Pocono Manor last Friday, looking to elevate their Pennsylvania brands and businesses to the international level.

The “Bringing the World to Northeastern Pennsylvania” event, hosted by the Northeastern Pennsylvania Alliance, connected representatives and owners of local businesses with Authorized Trade Representatives covering 52 countries.

The Trade Representatives provided valuable insight and analysis for local businesses looking to expand their business with international exports.

“They don’t represent anything but the state of Pennsylvania,” Mike Horvath, NEPA’s Senior International Program Manager, said.

“They don’t buy anything from the companies, they don’t rep the companies, they don’t distribute for the companies. They are there to listen to the company, find what they want to accomplish in that market, and give them the information and assistance to move forward,” Horvath said.

The 20-minute meetings allowed the local business to learn the rules and regulations of foreign markets, find their competitors in particular regions, develop lists of potential distributors and agents, thanks to the knowledgeable Trade Representatives’ expertise.

“Hopefully they’ll find someone who has the same business philosophy that they do in the market, where they could develop a long-term relationship and support their partner so they can sell their goods over there,” Horvath said.

New opportunities

Mark Miller, a representative for Lehighton Electronics Inc., came to the convention looking to expand their horizons and discover new opportunities in the international market.

He hopes that Lehighton Electronics’s upcoming release of a new optical scanning device will make for a profitable introduction in those markets.

“We make measuring equipment for the silicon carbide and gallium nitride industries, basically the wafers that are used in semiconductors and things like that,” Miller said.

“We make the measurement equipment that will measure the resistance and mobility of these wafers. What we’re trying to do is expand our presence on a global basis, and make sure that we have the right connections in Europe, Asia, and the rest of the world.”

During a meeting with Linda von Delhaes-Guenther, adviser for Germany, Switzerland, Austria, and Italy, Miller found what could be a lucrative venture, especially in light of Germany’s successful technological market.

Delhaes-Guenther provided Miller with some information on the 2018 Sensor+Test trade fair in Nuremberg, which could provide a wealth of European connections for Lehighton Electronics.

“His technology is quite unique, he only has one competitor, and he was able to describe his unique selling points very well. I think that he could have some good opportunities. Those industries are growing in Germany,” Delhaes-Guenther said.

Promoting PA

Following lunch, several speakers, including Horvath, NEPA president and CEO Jeffrey K. Box, and Sen. Mario Scavello praised the efforts of all parties in building and promoting Pennsylvania businesses to the international level.

“I’d like to commend you guys, really and truly commend you on your proven success, which our Export Development Program helped generate $36.6 million in state and local tax revenue, and helped create or retain over 5,000 jobs. The companies reported $613 million in export sales as a result of assistance that they received from the Office of International Business Development,” he said.

Vocational schools play a role.

“We have to wake up our schools, our guidance counselors. We’ve got to push these kids to the trades. There are over 12,000 jobs needed right now,” he said.

And when those local manufacturers gain a foothold in the global market, the resulting business could mean more employment opportunities at places like Lehighton Electronics.

As Miller puts it, the resources available at “Bringing the World to Northeastern Pennsylvania,” along with NEPA and the other present organizations, are essential when it comes to pushing a Pennsylvania business into the international scene. And those resources could, in turn, help bolster the local economy.

“I think anybody in Carbon County who is looking to go global, this would be a great start, because it’s a low resource-intensive program,” Miller said.

“It would be really, really hard for anybody, anywhere, like in Carbon County, to reach out to Asia, Europe, or South America on their own, and here they have someone who can act as the boots on the ground in any number of countries. Anyone who is starting a business should get involved in this.”