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Duquesne SBDC gets funding via CARES Act

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Here's how the money will be put to work to help small businesses deal with Covid-19 related challenges.

Local entrepreneur gets a boost from Small Business Development Center

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On an average day, Trina Worrell Benjamin handles invoices, returns calls and emails, directs a team of nearly a dozen employees and manages a client roster that has included big names like Rite Aid and Toys“R”Us. She admits her first steps into entrepreneurship were not easy. But with the help of…

Local entrepreneur gets a boost from Small Business Development Center

  • SBDC: Temple University SBDC
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Duquesne University SBDC Secures U.S. Commerce Department Funds to Help Increase Small Business Exports, Create Jobs

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The Pennsylvania Small Business Development Centers (SBDC) have announced that the Network’s center at Duquesne University has been selected as one of eight recipients of the U.S. Commerce Department’s International Trade Administration (ITA) Market Development Cooperator Program (MDCP).  Funds awarded through this program support projects aimed at increasing U.S. exports, creating jobs, and strengthening America’s global competitiveness.

“This project, IMPACT: Mexico, Colombia, Chile Peru, will focus on further opening markets for U.S. construction equipment and building firms in these Pacific Alliance countries.  These four countries have the most dynamic economies in Latin America including the highest economic growth, a majority of exports, stable political systems, and over one-third of the total population,” said Duquesne University SBDC Director Mary McKinney.  “Additionally, each country has Free Trade Agreements with the U.S. which have greatly reduced tariffs and streamlined regulations.  The time for U.S. firms to export to these countries is now,” she added.

“We look forward to working alongside the Commerce Department to serve Pennsylvania companies who are looking to expand their international operations and grow their businesses,” said Pennsylvania SBDC State Director Christian Conroy.  “The Duquesne University SBDC is well-positioned to tap the pipeline of export-ready companies already working with SBDCs statewide to fulfill the goals of this project,” he added.
Duquesne University will receive $300,000 from the MDCP grant, which will be matched with an investment of $658,000 in other resources, to help the construction equipment and building materials industries generate exports to Mexico, Colombia, Chile, and Peru. Activities that will be undertaken include: translating U.S. companies’ sales materials; hosting foreign buyers at U.S. events; and helping firms secure financing to execute their export strategies.  The project is expected to generate an estimated $107 million in exports during the next three years by U.S. companies.  

Businesses looking to participate in this project or to begin exporting, should contact their local SBDC.  Services available to businesses include:

  • Getting started - Assessing a company’s export readiness, conducting international market research, identifying appropriate referrals to other service providers, and compiling international competitors
  • Taking the next steps - Assistance with developing an export marketing plan,  importing goods, understanding tariffs and duties, learning about cultural differences, and planning market entry strategies
  • Refining a global strategy - Sourcing materials, interpreting Free Trade Agreements (FTAs), reviewing export compliance and regulations, and generating international sales
  • Succeeding in international business - Preparing for trade shows and trade missions, identifying sources of export financing, mitigating payment risks, and understanding distributor agreements

The Pennsylvania SBDC maintains MOUs with the U.S. Commercial Service, and the U.S. Trade and Development Agency, and maintains a close working relationship with the Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development’s Office of International Business Development and Regional Export Network. Through these alliances, the SBDC has access to a large pool of knowledge, expertise and technical data to help Pennsylvania companies succeed in global markets.  Since 1990, the Pennsylvania SBDCs have helped entrepreneurs grow international markets with more than $1.6 billion in export sales.

Certified international trade consultants are available for confidential, no-fee, individualized consulting to help companies plan their export strategy.  To learn more about services and programs available for business owners, visit