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Aventure Aviation, a leading aftermarket aviation parts supplier based in Metro-Atlanta, was recently awarded a $5,000 grant from the Atlanta Metro Export Plan, which administers grants provided by JP Morgan Chase. Aventure was one of 35 winners selected out of 70 applicants, and the grant will be used to improve Aventure’s capabilities in the South East Asia and Chinese regions.
During the announcement of the winners of the Atlanta Metro Export Challenge, Ric Hubler, Senior Director of the Metro Atlanta Chamber of Commerce, noted that most companies do not even realize that they are involved in exports. Selling to Canada and Mexico is considered exporting. Two years into his administration, President Barack Obama prioritized improving the exports of U.S. companies and certain grant programs were part of this initiative.
A common assumption is that grants are only available to non-profit organizations, educational institutions, or government contractors. However, there are a number of grants funded by private organizations that are geared towards private businesses specifically looking to improve their capability to export.
Throughout our grant application process, there were four key points we learned that help make these grants possible for small businesses:
The first key is realizing that there is grant money out there for your business. It is surprising that most companies do not take advantage of such opportunities because it is a competitive field and most do not even know they qualify.
The second key is to get involved and develop relationships. Over the past 15 years, Aventure Aviation has been the proud recipient of a number of awards from the state of Georgia, local organizations, and the U.S. Small Business Administration. These awards included the SBA Exporter of the Year for the Southeastern U.S. Region and Georgia’s Rock Star Award. Moreover, these awards have come from the work that we have done with our local, state, and federal government agencies and chamber organizations such as the Metro Atlanta Chamber, Fayette Chamber of Commerce, Fayette County Development Authority, Georgia Department of Economic Development, U.S. Small Business Development Center, and the U.S. Commercial Service. Each of these partnerships has gone a long way towards assisting us with expanding our growth as a Georgia exporter and that has truly been the key to our success.
The third key is to stay in contact with organizations that have helped your business grow. The majority of the awards that Aventure has won have been through recommendations from organizations that have helped us in the past. In most cases, these organizations are eager to take part in your success.
The fourth key is to discover and utilize all available resources. The amount of free resources available from the state and local government is considerable. If you are a start-up or even have been in business for a few years, and need help with strategic planning, your local small business development center will work with you to develop a formal business plan. If you need assistance with exporting, contact the U.S. Commercial Service’s Export Assistance Center and they will put you in touch with an International Trade Specialist to help you find the right leads. Best of all, each of these services are completely free! You just have to look for them and ask.
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