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Michigan Launches China Export Initiative

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LANSING — Michigan consumer goods companies interested in reaching new customers in the fastest growing economy in the world will have an opportunity to take part in a new exporting pilot program offered through a partnership between the export services company Export Now and the Michigan Economic Development Corp.

The Pure Michigan Export Now pilot program will help consumer-product companies in the state sell their products directly to Chinese consumers via the world’s largest Internet-based sales platform. The program will be detailed in four informational forums taking place around the state in April.

“Export Now’s unique combination of services further broadens the state’s Pure Michigan Business Connect program by reenergizing the focus on exporting and economic gardening. The program will offer Michigan companies the opportunity to test their products in the China consumer market with limited risk,” said MEDC President and CEO Michael A. Finney. “This unique exporting program builds on Governor Rick Snyder’s mission to China last fall, where we met with government officials and business leaders to bring new job-creating investments here and open doors for Michigan businesses.”

Export Now provides an end-to-end IT and logistics system that enables Michigan companies to sell on China’s e-commerce platform, www.tmall.com, as easily as selling on similar and familiar U.S. e-commerce platforms at home.

Michigan companies will be able to participate in the first-ever mass marketing of Michigan goods to China in a single place through the Pure Michigan department in the online store.

With support from MEDC, Michigan companies will pay only $1,000 to sign up with Export Now and use the service for one year, two-thirds less than the usual $3,000 charge. Michigan companies will ship goods on consignment to an Export Now depot in California, where shipments are consolidated and forwarded to Export Now’s Shanghai distribution center. All companies pay a transaction cost with each sale. Factoring in shipping costs and overhead, goods can be priced for Chinese consumers similar to the prices paid at retail in the United States and at the same revenue per item for the American producer as goods sold domestically.

“Today’s announcement opens up one of the world’s largest markets to Michigan’s food and agriculture businesses,” said Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development Director Keith Creagh. “Our state’s high quality food and agriculture products are sought by Chinese consumers. This pilot program utilizes technology to provide a new innovative export opportunity for Michigan’s food and agriculture companies as they explore new markets.”

Frank Lavin, CEO of Export Now, said that the partnership with the State of Michigan demonstrates the crucial role exports play in economic development.

“New customers mean more sales and that translates into jobs,” Lavin said. “Through our unique e-commerce solution, we eliminate the challenges of language, culture and regulation that prevent many small businesses from entering new markets.”

The Export Now informational forum schedule is:
* Monday, April 16 – 2-4pm, Detroit Regional Chamber, Detroit
* Tuesday, April 17 – 8:30-10:30am, Rapid Central Station, Grand Rapids
* Wednesday, April 18 – 10am-noon, Lansing Regional Chamber, Lansing
* Friday, April 20 – 8-10am, Four Points Sheraton, Saginaw

To qualify for the pilot program, companies must:
* Be an existing Michigan company that currently manufactures or produces a consumer product.
* Verify that the proposed product or product family has already been sold successfully in the marketplace.
* Demonstrate the capability to successfully run an export program by showing previous success in e-commerce, previous success in exporting, or simply by the size and maturity of the company.

For more information on Export Now or how to apply, visit: www.michiganadvantage.org/STEP and indicate “Export Now” in the comments box, or call MEDC’s customer contact center at (888) 522-0103.

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