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New workshop to offer N.J. manufacturers a crash course in exports

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A new program is launching this fall to help manufacturers in New Jersey branch out into exporting.

The New Jersey Manufacturing Extension Program will offer a four-day workshop beginning in September aimed at helping manufacturers break into the global export market. The workshop will stretch over three months and give manufacturers a forum for developing and getting feedback on an export plan before taking it out into the real world.

"Ninety-five percent of the world's customers live outside the U.S., but many manufacturers don't know how to manage international inquiries," said John Kennedy, NJMEP chief operating officer, in a statement. "This program will provide hands-on coaching so our manufacturers can confidently introduce or expand international sales."

The program costs $3,000, and participating companies will each be paired with a coach to guide them through the workshop, said Jeff Hoffman, product manager for ExporTech.

Hoffman said New Jersey is not yet a "hotbed" of export activity, so the goal is to open manufacturers in the state up to new customers and sources of revenue. In other states where the ExporTech program has been implemented, the average participant increased sales by almost $170,000.

Tom Smith, executive director of the New Jersey Tooling and Manufacturing Association, said his association has sent the workshop information out to its roughly 100 members.

Smith said of those 100 members, fewer than 10 are actively exporting.

"A lot of our members are small and haven't considered much in the way of exporting," Smith said. "We're trying to encourage them to think outside the box."

Smith said a big deterrent is the additional paperwork and documentation that's required when dealing with exporting.

In addition, the economic climate in New Jersey is improving, which means many companies are too busy keeping up with new business to think about extending their reach into other countries, he added.

But Smith said the goal of the association is to encourage manufacturers in the state to think differently about their businesses and be more strategic.

"The most we can do is get the word out to our members," Smith said. "They then have to take action."

The ExporTech program will be held at the Marriott in Saddle Brook, beginning with a special introductory workshop on Sept. 30. The following sessions will take place on Oct. 7, Nov. 12 and Dec. 9. Companies must register online by Sept. 27.

Reporter Mary Johnson is @mjohns422 on Twitter.

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