Charles County to the World: Business Opportunities Abroad

Posted by: Economic Development Team on Thursday, March 21, 2019

The focus of our first International Trade Seminar on March 14 was on business opportunities in Africa—a growing and diverse part of the world economy that has too many possibilities to ignore. Entrepreneurs and business experts who are already doing business in Africa and elsewhere shared from their experience and gave Charles County businesses a glimpse of what is involved.

Commissioner President Reuben Collins said in his opening remarks, “This is a great opportunity for those wanting to do business in Charles County, but also wanting to expand on an international scale. I’m excited about the possibilities that will come out of this meeting.”

Economic Development Director Darréll Brown agreed. “As entrepreneurs and business people, we want to open up the county to a broader world, and we’re here to do what we can to support that.”

Ian Oliver and Ross Ensor, with ISI Consultants, led the discussion and questioned seasoned panelists on topics such as:

  • Africa’s top markets and industries
  • Planning for growth and minimizing risk
  • International sales and marketing
  • Leveraging state and federal resources
  • Export financing
  • Legal considerations

The numbers show what makes Africa a world player:

  • 54 diverse countries (markets)
  • 2 billion people (compared to 300+ million in the U.S.)
  • 5 times size of U.S. population
  • 50% of population under 20
  • 2 billion population that will have doubled by 2050
  • 6 of the top 10 world economies are in Africa

Tips for Succeeding in Africa

Most of the advice for running a business in Africa is the same as the U.S. Have a plan. Know where you want to focus and target. (Remember Africa has 54 diverse countries and 2,000 languages.) Businesses are about relationships, and that holds true three times more in Africa. Make sure you understand the markets, as well as the differences, and try to be patient. Things work on a different time scale in Africa, and businesses need to plan for that long term—not expect a quick deal. An “internationalized” website is also very important.

View slides form the event for more information.

Business Resources in Our Own Backyard

Whether businesses are looking to expand a business locally or internationally, Oliver suggests: “Get out and shake some hands. We’re so lucky to live where we live—a stone’s throw from Washington DC where all the trade agencies are. A stone’s throw from Baltimore where other trade agencies are, and right here in Charles County where the EDD is here. These are resources right in our backyard. Take that advantage that you have.”

The number and variety of resources is immense, and the EDD can be the first point of contact for Charles County businesses. They’ll point you in the right direction and help you find the ones that best fit your needs.

An exhaustive list of International Trade Resources can be found on the EDD’s website. Other online resources for Business Support include a Start & Grow page (links to local, regional, and national resources),  Financing page,  and pages about Local & Minority Business Programs and Workforce Training.

To learn about how the Economic Development Department can support your business, visit the pages mentioned or contact us at info@meetcharlescounty.com.

Views from Charles

#MyCharlesCounty and other ways to make a difference

Published: Thursday, September 5, 2019

For those who work in economic development, pointing out a community’s assets is part of the job.  But sometimes, it’s what its citizens say that makes a difference.  This is a true story told by a local businessman who’s now in Southern Maryland but moved here from another state. 

“Charles County is a great central location for us to have access to all of our customers. We do business with NSWC Carderock, Naval Research Laboratory, NAWCAD Patuxent River, NSWC Dahlgren, and Indian Head Naval Support Facility, to name a few.”

Scott Decker
Director of Operations

Cardinal Scientific

“We are proud to be a key part of Charles County’s future and we heartily encourage other, cutting-edge companies to join us.”

Doug Egan
Chief Executive Officer
Competitive Power Ventures

“Charles County is where we started our company and where we grew and expanded. We now operate our managed print and managed IT solutions in five states and provide custom apps all around the globe. Our headquarters is still in Charles County, an excellent place to conduct business and recruit highly skilled individuals for our ever growing team!"

Joshua Justice
President

Just Tech

 

“We are proud to be a key part of Charles County’s future and we heartily encourage other, cutting-edge companies to join us.”

Katharine Tate
 Executive Director of Provider Engagement and Community Relations

Righttime Medical Care

“Charles County is a great place for businesses to start, grow, and thrive! We've worked with over 100 businesses since we opened our doors in Charles County, and I've witnessed the majority of these businesses achieve all three.”

Darlene M. Breck

Owner

Southern Maryland Business Center

“Charles County is a great place to do business because of the passion of the business community and the residents who strive to make it the best that it can be."

Andrew W. Welburn

President

The Welburn Organization