May 29, 2015 - 9:00am

Trading Up: Emily Gets a Glimpse of the Global Stage

Part of an ongoing series on Emily, a rising entrepreneur

Can international trade deals have implications for a small business in the Midwest? You bet — as Emily is learning from her new friend Caroline.

Looking for insights into how she could build her business further, Emily signed up for a course in entrepreneurship at a nearby community college. There she got to be friends with Caroline, who took over her family’s metal fabrication business last year.

Like Emily, Caroline has big dreams for building her business into a viable concern — and that means finding a way to export her company’s products into larger global markets.

After class one evening, Caroline and Emily stopped off at a nearby restaurant. That’s when Caroline started telling Emily about her expansion plans.

“When my father started the company in 1975, it was enough to serve the local market,” Caroline told Emily. “Over time, he was able to expand so we could be a regional player. But since he retired and I took over the company a few years ago, I’m looking to play on a bigger field — I think there are huge opportunities for exports to other markets around the world.”

But a key to those opportunities is a healthy and robust trade policy that allows small players to compete in those global markets. That’s not only critical for the growth of those companies, it’s also essential for job creation and growth throughout the economy.

While the debate in the nation’s capital continues on key priorities like renewing Trade Promotion Authority, and as the Obama administration looks to negotiate important market-opening, growth-inducing trade agreements like the Trans-Pacific Partnership, business owners of all companies of all sizes are watching to see how those issues shake out. After all, it’s bound to have a big effect on both their bottom lines and their future growth plans.

“Oh, yeah, I’ve been paying close attention to the trade debate that’s happening in Washington,” Caroline said. “My father and I don’t always see eye to eye on political issues — he’s a lifelong Republican and I’m a Democrat, like my mom. But we both know that trade is important both for our company and for the whole economy. So I’m hoping Congress does the right thing and renews TPA.”

Since Emily started working for herself, she’s developed a deeper appreciation for the ways in which bigger national issues have an impact on the business world. As she builds her network — making connections, securing new colleagues, landing new clients — she’s learning more about how policies related to taxes, health care, energy and trade relate to her and the world around her.

As a budding entrepreneur, Emily is still focused on learning how to run her business — so she was impressed to talk to someone with global aspirations. And talking to Caroline excites Emily about the possibilities she imagines for herself.

“I mean, I’m still at that phase where I’m trying to make sure I can manage my schedule, pick up new clients and keeping the cash flow going so I can keep the lights on,” Emily says. “And here’s Caroline trying to crack the problem of how she’s going to get her products into the Asian market. I hope that one day I’ll have that problem myself!”

About the Author

About the Author