Would-be exporters turn to L.A. center for advice

SMALL BUSINESS

December 28, 1992|By JANE APPLEGATE

When the nation's first Small Business Development Center devoted solely to exporting opened about a year ago in #i downtown Los Angeles, director Gladys Moreau expected a positive response. But she's been astonished at just how many small-business owners are interested in selling their products and services abroad.

"We're busting at the seams here," said Ms. Moreau. "We are absolutely overwhelmed with the demand and the successes."

The center, which hires experts to provide one-on-one free counseling to business owners, has advised about 1,000 clients so far. In addition to the free counseling, the center is host to frequent introductory seminars for business owners and offers a variety of computerized data base services.

"There's no question that Latin America and Mexico in particular have been getting a lot of attention," said Ms. Moreau. "Canada is still our biggest trading partner, but people don't seem to need as much help to do business there."

Ms. Moreau, an international marketing consultant and former international banker, said businesses in California are exporting scrap metal, used apparel, high-technology equipment and accessories and all kinds of medical products.

The center, which is funded through federal, state and private contributions, charges modest fees for some materials.

The Export Small Business Development Center is located at 110 E. Ninth St., Suite A761, Los Angeles, Calif. 90079, (213) 892-1111. The center is open Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. (PST). While the Los Angeles center focuses on helping Southern California business owners, out-of-town business

owners can call in for information.

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The U.S. Commerce Department offers a variety of resources for business owners interested in exporting. In addition to a staff of specialists who are experts on particular countries, the department has a 24-hour fax service featuring hard-to-get information on Eastern European countries. To request a list of subjects available, call (202) 482-5745.

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If you are interested in doing business with the republics of the former Soviet Union, you might consider buying "SIBD 92-93: The Business Directory for the Soviet Region."

The two-volume guide has more than 6,500 detailed listings and information about doing business in the ever-changing region. The price: $240, plus $10 shipping. For information contact: FYI, 735 Eighth St. S.E., Washington, D.C. 20003, or call (202) 544-2394.

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The International Business Forum in Chicago is helping business owners nationwide access global information through a variety of electronic data bases. Business owners who pay a $2,500 annual subscription fee obtain trade leads through the GlobalMatch program.

IBF also works with Baker & McKenzie, a law firm specializing in international law, and provides international credit checking, shipping, translation and financing services. IBF is located at 29 South La Salle St., Suite 1046, Chicago, Ill. 60603, (312) 357-1900.

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The Small Business Foundation of America operates the Export Opportunity Hot Line, Mondays through Fridays, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

The hot line provides a variety of free export information and referrals to entrepreneurs as well as data base services for a modest fee. Telephone: (800) 243-7232. In Washington, call: (202) 223-1104.

The foundation also publishes an excellent exporting guide, "Exportise: An International Trade Source Book for Smaller Company Executives." The cost is $49.50. For ordering information, call: (202) 223-1103.

(Jane Applegate is a syndicated columnist and author. Write t her through the Los Angeles Times, Times Mirror Square, Los Angeles, Calif. 90053.)

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