JPMorgan Chase Pledges Additional $200,000 to Expand the M7 Export Development Grant Program to More Companies

In a continuing effort to grow exports in the region, The Milwaukee 7 Regional Economic Development Partnership (M7) launched the Export Development Grant Program presented by JPMorgan Chase last November with an initial award of $200,000. The highly-successful program provides financial assistance to small and medium enterprises, both new to export as well as experienced exporters, to enter into new or grow existing international markets. In just 6 months, 34 companies have been awarded grants each ranging from $1,250 to $5,000. JPMorgan Chase announced this week that they are providing an additional $200,000 to the Milwaukee 7 to continue the program across the region.

“The Milwaukee 7 Export Development Grant Program is a wonderful example of how the Global Cities Initiative can provide value to the regional economy,” said Jim Popp, managing director for Chase Middle Market Banking in Wisconsin. “M7 has effectively marketed the program and companies have stepped up enthusiastically to explore or expand their exporting efforts. Providing additional funds is a win-win for all of us.”

“Increasing the number of companies in the region that export is a huge opportunity for Southeast Wisconsin,” said Gale Klappa, chairman, president and CEO of WEC Energy Group. “We know that the majority of economic growth comes from companies already located in the region and through exporting, businesses can grow faster and sustain that growth.”
The Export Development Grant Program provides matching funds of up to $5,000 per company. The funding can be used for a multitude of export-related purposes and may also be combined with grants offered by the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC). Companies are asked to provide a narrative explaining how the funding will help grow exports. Any and all uses of the funds used to grow a company’s international presence will be considered.

Two waves of applications have been reviewed by the Grant Committee and a total of 34 companies were approved for various projects. “The majority of the award winners will travel to international tradeshows or trade missions to meet with prospective partners and customers,” explained Chad Hoffman, M7 export development manager. “In addition, many companies will also be utilizing the U.S. Commercial Service’s Gold Key matchmaking service in conjunction with the tradeshows to make the most of the trip abroad. Another resource that companies identified is ExporTechTM, a very beneficial program to assist companies in developing a strategic plan to grow exports.”

According to Hoffman there is plenty of room for growth for the region’s exporters. Southeastern Wisconsin’s economy produces just under $100 billion in total economic output with only 16% resulting from exports. Furthermore, 40% of the region’s exports are to Canada and Mexico, which represent just 4.2% of global GDP. Nationwide, according to the International Trade Administration, 58% of small- and medium-sized exporters only sold into a single international market in 2012. “Our goal is identify companies who are not exporting to their full potential and help them enter new markets,” explained Hoffman. “Navigating the available programs can be daunting, however, we are committed to providing companies with the most appropriate information for their current situation. The Export Development Grant Program is another tool to help grow the region’s exports.”

The 34 companies come from a variety of industries and include manufacturers and service providers alike. The additional $200,000 in grant funding provided by the JP Morgan Chase Foundation will allow the program to continue into the foreseeable future.

To apply for the Export Development Grant Program or for additional information and eligibility requirements, companies can start the process by visiting the program website: http://mke7.com/exporting. The 3rd round of applications are now being accepted through June 30, 2016 and funding is made available on a first-come, first-serve basis.
The Milwaukee 7, launched in September 2005, was formed to create a regional, cooperative economic development platform for the seven counties of southeastern Wisconsin: Kenosha, Milwaukee, Ozaukee, Racine, Walworth, Washington and Waukesha. The Milwaukee 7 continues to build the region’s capacity and accelerate economic growth.

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