County firms looking overseas for expanded markets International push begins in North Point Blvd. zone

July 11, 1996|By Liz Atwood | Liz Atwood,SUN STAFF

As part of a plan to revive southeastern Baltimore County, economic development officials are encouraging companies to expand their horizons by finding overseas trading partners.

The county Office of Economic Development has hired an international trade specialist and is enlisting the help of the World Trade Center Institute in Baltimore to help find those partners.

"I wanted someone who gets up in the morning and worries about companies who do business outside the U.S. borders," Economic Development Director Robert L. Hannon said.

That person is Carey Esslinger, an economic development analyst with a master's degree from L'Institut Catholique des

Hautes Etudes Commerciales in Brussels, Belgium.

The push for international trade is a modest effort so far, beginning in the county's new enterprise zone along North Point Boulevard. About a dozen companies have expressed interest in entering the world market or expanding their international trade contacts.

Paul J. Wajbel Jr., owner of General Die Finishing Inc., is one of those ready to step into the international arena. For 13 years, his company on Rosebank Avenue has been painting and finishing American products ranging from parts for F-14 jet fighters to fire extinguishers.

He has hired a part-time international trade consultant and is about to begin working with the county and World Trade Center Institute on marketing his service overseas.

"I want to grow this company as far as we can," said Wajbel, whose firm employs 25 workers and has about $1.6 million in annual revenue.

Experienced in serving the private sector and government clients in 30 states, Wajbel is confident his company can be competitive abroad. "Everything that gets made has to be finished or painted."

The World Trade Center Institute is an export-information broker, research house, educational institution and commerce matchmaker with more than 300 affiliates around the world. It will offer companies a preliminary analysis of their overseas potential and put them in touch with trade partners, said institute director Penelope Menzies.

Although most businesses in the enterprise zone are small- and medium-sized companies, Menzies believes they can compete overseas. "This is absolutely where we should be concentrating our efforts -- on the small business with a good, solid product or service."

Hannon said the international focus is a logical extension of the county's efforts to revitalize an area that has lost 20,000 manufacturing jobs in the past 20 years.

In January, the state designated 2,370 acres along North Point Boulevard as the county's first enterprise zone, affording companies the chance at tax breaks, as well as bonuses for new investments and hiring new workers.

Pub Date: 7/11/96

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