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Conference set on small biz financing program

By John O’Connell

Capital Press

The Idaho State Department of Agriculture is hosting Internet conferences for companies interested in obtainaing assistance through the Western United States Agricultural Trade Association's Branded program for international market development.

BOISE, Idaho — The Idaho State Department of Agricultural is scheduling hour-long internet consultations with small food and agricultural businesses interested in a federally funded program that covers half of a company’s costs of approved international marketing efforts.

The Western United States Agricultural Trade Association, a nonprofit trade association funded by USDA’s Market Access Program representing the 13 western state agricultural departments, provides up to $50,000 in assistance for companies in their first year of participation and up to $300,000 for subsequent years.

Though the program has existed for several years, only about a half dozen Idaho companies now participate, said ISDA trade specialist Kim Polzin.

“A lot of companies just don’t know about it. We hope to change that,” Polzin said. “The other part is companies assume it’s not going to work for them. That’s the point of the one-on-one webinars is to get them to think outside of the box a little bit.”

Companies should call Polzin at 208-332-8532 by May 5 to register for an online conference. Polzin and WUSATA staff members will participate in the conferences throughout May 7 and May 14. The online meetings will entail a slideshow presentation followed by discussions about the best options for each individual company. Polzin said most companies that meet qualifications receive funding through the program.

The program is open to small businesses — as defined by Small Business Administration guidelines — that use at least 50 percent local ingredients.

Polzin said the most common application is for companies to send staff to international trade shows.

“We’d like to expand that and make them aware of other ideas,” Polzin said.

Branded program participants may also use the funding to attend domestic trade shows, provided that international buyers are represented. Applicants also frequently apply for assistance to send samples of their products to potential foreign buyers.



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