Photo: U.S. Secretary of Commerce Gary Locke spoke about the importance of exporting to multiple countries Thursday after a tour of West Paw Design with Sen. Max Baucus and West Paw CEO Spencer Williams. Photo by Taylor Anderson.
On the heels of the APEC 2011 meetings in Big Sky, Montana, U.S. Commerce Secretary Gary Locke and U.S. Sen. Max Baucus (D-MT) visited West Paw Design Thursday, May 19, a Montana-based manufacturer of eco-friendly pet toys, beds and apparels. Touring its sustainable manufacturing facilities, Locke praised West Paw for its green manufacturing methods and efforts to export its products to foreign markets. Promoting green growth among businesses of the Asia-Pacific region is one of the key goals of APEC 2011.
“West Paw exemplifies the kind of green growth and aggressive exporting that we need from small- and medium-sized businesses to reinvigorate our economy,” Locke said. “It is the export successes of companies like West Paw that are going to help our economy grow, create jobs and meet President Obama’s goal of doubling U.S. exports in five years.”
West Paw, which exports its products to 28 foreign markets, showcased its best sustainable manufacturing practices to more than 70 participants during the tour, including APEC trade officials and private sector representatives from the 21 APEC economies.
“These APEC meetings are a tremendous opportunity to help small businesses in Montana and across the country develop the relationships they need to increase exports and expand their businesses,” Baucus said.
“Montana has a greater percentage of workers employed by small businesses like West Paw than any other state in the country. By bringing the world to Montana, we’re showing APEC just how central small businesses are to creating the jobs our economy needs. And we will continue to work with the Commerce Department and other agencies to ensure APEC focuses on the issues most important to small- and medium-sized businesses.”
West Paw Design integrated sustainability into its manufacturing processes and product design by using recycled and organic materials. The company has 46 employees and has more than doubled the size of its manufacturing facility in 2010 in order to handle the growing demand for its products. It has utilized several federal government resources to help boost its exports, including the Commerce Department’s U.S. Commercial Service, Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MEP) and loans from the U.S. Small Business Administration.
“West Paw Design is thrilled to be a part of APEC and exploring trade opportunities,” Spencer Williams, President of West Paw Design said. “[On the tour] we were able to show real world examples of public-private partnerships such as MEP and foreign commercial service which have increased jobs and profitability for all who work at West Paw Design.”
Since becoming Commerce secretary, Locke has played an instrumental role in promoting the products and services of U.S. businesses in foreign markets. As the Cabinet official in charge of implementing the President’s National Export Initiative (NEI), Locke presided over a 17 percent increase in exports in 2010 compared to 2009. In fiscal year 2010, U.S. firms reported more than 12,000 exports successes achieved by working with the Commerce Department’s Commercial Service; 438 of these cases were for companies that have never exported before and 5,154 were expansions into a new market. 80 percent of these successes were reported by small and medium-sized enterprises.
This week’s meetings in Big Sky were part of the APEC SME Ministerial which is held annually by the APEC host economy to advance APEC’s support for micro, small, and medium enterprises that comprise the majority of businesses in all 21 APEC member economies. This year’s meeting has the highest level of private sector engagement from APEC economies to date. The objective of the SME Ministerial and related meetings is to encourage the development of SMEs and to build their capacity to engage in international trade.
APEC is the premier economic organization in the Asia-Pacific region. APEC’s 21 members today account for 40 percent of the world’s population, 58 percent of GDP, 48 percent of global trade, and comprise a market of 2.7 billion consumers. Seven of America’s top 15 trade partners are in APEC.
The goal of this year’s APEC meetings is to strengthen economic integration and expand trade, to expand regulatory cooperation and promote green growth.