Published January 1, 1996 | January 1996 issue
The South Dakota International Business Institute (SDIBI) is making it easier for some state businesses to get on the global map.
A cooperative effort between the state and Northern University in Aberdeen, SDIBI supports state and federal agencies and regional businesses in their efforts to enhance international business in the region. SDIBI sponsors workshops and conveys information about international business opportunities and activities through a computer bulletin board and newsletter. In addition, a certificate of recognition in international business is granted to those who attend a series of classes and seminars.
SDIBI also works directly with businesses as an export agent to produce export feasibility studies for individual companies, establish international distribution channels, plan international marketing programs and prepare the necessary paperwork before exporting can occur. "We're closing the gap between academia and business," says Joop Bollen, SDIBI director. "Business people say, 'What do they know, they haven't done it.' But we have shipped cars to Romania and tea to Switzerland," Bollen adds.
The tea comes from Native American Herbal Tea Co., Aberdeen. While Native American Herbal Tea has been exporting almost since it began business in 1987, the SDIBI has provided information on new ways to ship and to market Herbal Tea's products, according to Rich Vallie, company president. "Export information is easy to get, but none of the other agencies [that deal with exports] offers this kind of hands-on help and training," Vallie says.
The double benefit of SDIBI's activities is the opportunity for Northern's international business students to get practical experience. Bollen says students do export feasibility studies for individual companies over the course of a semester.
The SDIBI also has arranged visits by foreign government officials to the state. For example, in fall a team of Chinese agricultural experts, in the United States to recruit products for an agricultural trade show in China next spring, visited an Aberdeen ethanol plant and fertilizer operation.