Obama official wants Rochester businesses to up their export game

Mar 8, 2012

A top business official in the Obama administration will be speaking to the International Business Council of Greater Rochester Friday.

The goal is to raise awareness of the federal programs that can help small businesses boost foreign sales.

"We want to make sure small businesses are not left behind," says Fred Hochberg, president and chairman of the Export-Import Bank of the United States (Ex-Im Bank).

Hochberg's federal agency is tasked with helping businesses finance export deals. He says roughly 85 percent of the transactions Ex-Im handles are with small businesses.

President Barack Obama has made increasing U.S. exports a major focus. By way of his National Export Initiative, Obama has pledged to double U.S. exports by 2014.

Hochberg, an Obama appointee, says the administration is well on its way to reaching that target. 

"If we want to have a balanced economy and create jobs, we need to also be producing things, not just consuming," says Hochberg. "The National Export Initiative is about refocusing our economy on those aspects - and small businesses need to be a part of that."

On Friday, Hochberg and Rep. Louise Slaughter will speak to the International Business Council of Greater Rochester. The free event kicks off at 8:30 a.m. at Rochester's Gleason Works Auditorium. More information can be found here.

A recent Brookings study shows Rochester is doing quite well on the exports front.

Its $8.1 billion worth of exports in 2010 leads upstate New York. The Rochester region ranks 33rd in the nation.

Buffalo ranks 46th.

Albany ranks 66th.

Syracuse ranks 72nd.

By comparison, New York City's $78 billion export market ranks 2nd.

Hochberg says New York State's export growth of just under 19 percent is three percentage points higher than the national average.

"New York State is doing very well in terms of export growth," says Hochberg.