Door County’s Sister City Relationship Offers Export Opportunities

by Jim Schuessler, CEO, Door County Economic Development Corporation

Simply put, there are two ways for a business to increase its profitability: reduce expenses through leaner operating methods and other efficiencies, and increase revenue through sales.

Local companies that want to grow sales by introducing their products to a new region of the world will have a potential path to success courtesy of an upcoming collaborative effort. The Door County Ad Hoc Sister City Committee – in collaboration with the UW-Oshkosh Small Business Development Center (SBDC), Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC) and Door County Economic Development Corporation (DCEDC) – is offering a way to help Door County businesses market their products to Door County’s sister city, Jingdezhen, in the Jiangxi Province of China.

WEDC offers support to companies and organizations seeking to grow their sales through exports. Because it recognizes the dangers of siloed efforts and the importance of collaboration, it runs its grant programs through economic-development organizations – in this case, DCEDC.

Jingdezhen is known as the Porcelain Capital because of the fine pottery – thin, white porcelain – it has produced for nearly 2,000 years. The city is thought to create the highest-quality products in China. Its 1.5 million residents provide an ample market for Door County’s food, consumer goods and durable manufactured products.

Door County and Jingdezhen have been sister cities since 2004, when Jingdezhen Mayor Xu Aimin, Yanjun Weng and Door County native Brian Linden proposed the idea to the board of supervisors. Linden and his wife, Jeanee, ran the Linden Gallery in Ellison Bay, which featured Asian material culture, and in 2008, they opened the Linden Centre in China’s Yunnan Province.

The export opportunity is not limited to Wisconsin’s strong dairy economy, although it’s exciting to potentially increase Door County exports by introducing that region to Renard’s cheese products, dried fruits from Seaquist Orchards and Cherry De-Lite, and Waseda Farms’ products, to name a few.

But food is not actually the state’s primary export driver. Manufactured durable goods are by far the top Wisconsin exports, including the top five product categories. In 2018, China was the third-highest destination for products exported from Wisconsin.

Would you like to learn more? On June 19,  9-11 am, DCEDC will host Shirley Malski, an international trade consultant with the UW-Oshkosh SBDC, who will discuss how local businesses might benefit from growing sales through exports and the export resources available. Malski has 25 years of experience in international corporate logistics, trade compliance and consulting.

Experience is extremely helpful because exporting is not always as simple as sending locally produced products overseas because, among other reasons, tastes vary across the globe. For example, Wisconsin manufacturer Johnsonville tailors several of its products to the flavor preferences of other countries and produces them solely for those markets. These include lemon-and-herb sausage for Japan, honey-and-garlic sausage for Canada, and Meridionale sausage for France. Experts such as Malski can help businesses avoid export pitfalls.

There is no fee for this introductory meeting, but registration is required. To register, email [email protected] or call 920-743-3113, ext. 200.

This program offers a great opportunity to benefit from the relationship with Door County’s sister city, and success there provides a foundation for growth well beyond its 1.5 million consumers.

Let’s take Door County to the world!

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