The Sacramento Bee: Viewpoints: Northern California businesses must begin to think globally

Viewpoints: Northern California businesses must begin to think globally

By Leah Goold-Haws
Special to The Bee
Published: Saturday, May. 17, 2014 – 12:00 am

It’s not surprising that California is the largest importer of international goods with the volume of trade activity coming from the Pacific Rim.But what might surprise you is that the Golden State is also the second largest exporter of U.S. goods behind Texas. California has experienced an upward trend in export trade since 2009 and hit a new record high last year by generating more than $168 billion in revenue. California now leads the nation in exporting computers, electronic products and agricultural commodities, and trades with more than 225 countries – Mexico, Canada and China being the top three trading partners.

This is great news, and not just for the big city markets like Los Angeles and the Bay Area, but also for the smaller outlier areas like our neck of the woods – Far North California.

With almost every corner of the world digitally accessible to us, international exportation is now within reach for the smallest of businesses, in the most rural of areas in California. The U.S. may have a population of 300 million, but more than 90 percent of the world’s consumers live outside of America and control 80 percent of the world’s buying power – that is a lot of opportunity and money to take advantage of.

California’s Far North businesses must begin to think globally. By looking beyond our local geographic borders we can generate billions of dollars in economic activity for the state and regional economies, while spurring the creation of local multiplier jobs in supply chain logistics, manufacturing and transportation.

And it all starts with understanding what foreign opportunities are available and creating pathways to accessing global markets. Agriculture, forestry and timber, tech manufacturing, medical and consumer products are the Far North’s strongest commodities and currently the best gateway to the international marketplace. But it doesn’t stop there. No matter what good or service you offer, or what startup idea you have, there may be ways to translate it into a business opportunity overseas.

For those businesses that want to discover global markets, help is available. Specialized industry training, technical and business development consulting, market research, financial and investor assistance, trade leads, business matchmaking and educational programs are just some of the many no- or low-cost services and resources offered by the California Centers for International Trade Development, which is supported by the California Community Colleges Chancellor’s Office.

In conjunction with its “Doing What Matters For Jobs and the Economy” program, the Chancellor’s Office has created several initiatives to nurture international trade statewide, promote California’s global competitiveness and encourage more young people to consider careers in global trade.

In order to ensure a bright future in international exporting, Doing What Matters For Jobs and the Economy representatives are building partnerships with the region’s seven community colleges –Shasta College, Feather River College, Lassen College, Mendocino College, College of the Redwoods, Butte College and Siskiyou College – to develop a global entrepreneur certification and increase international business curriculum at the college level that goes beyond international trade theory and applies more “how-to” knowledge.

In the next three years, employers statewide are expected to have nearly 55,000 job openings for supply chain-related occupations. With the job concerns of young people today, international business is a direct path into a high-employment field.

This fall semester, Shasta College will be the first regional school to provide an online Introduction to International Business course. Collaborations are currently in place with our other regional colleges to develop curriculum in agribusiness exports and international tourism.

Whether you are already in business or you are a student weighing your career options, the keys to your success could be abroad. If you are interested in getting more information on trade careers or developing your global export strategy, please contact Leah Goold-Haws, the regional deputy sector vavigator for global trade & logistics.

Leah Goold-Haws is a Northern California deputy sector navigator of global trade and logistics for the Doing What Matters for Jobs and the Economy program, which is overseen by the California Community Colleges Chancellor’s Office. Contact Goold-Haws at (530) 410-1182 or

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