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
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