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Are You Ready to Export? Meet the Washington State Dept of Commerce

March 27 @ 10:00 am 11:00 am PDT

Are You Ready to Export?

Join us this week for a conversation with Nicole Gunkle, Consumer Goods and Professional Services International Trade Specialist for the WA State Department of Commerce Export Assistance Team.

The small business export assistance team within Commerce’s Office of Economic Development and Competitiveness has helped small businesses statewide expand into trade or increase their exports and sales overseas. Through the State Trade Expansion Program (STEP) companies can take advantage of trade shows, trade missions, market research, and developing an international online presence to expand their businesses.

Go Global is a new E-commerce Technical Assistance Grant Program that supports small businesses with the consulting, design and technical support required to develop new website, upgrade an existing one, add online ordering, increase the search engine rankings and build a social media marketing machine.

Thrive! is Commerce’s program partnered with the Edward Lowe Foundation for second-stage companies. This outstanding program will get companies over the hump so they can grow their company further. Graduates of this program typically experience a 15% to 30% increase in revenue.

About the Speakers

Nicole Gunkle serves as the STEP Export Voucher Program Manager and Trade Specialist for the Consumer Goods and Defense industries at the Washington State Department of Commerce. Prior to her current role, she worked for the State of Colorado running the STEP and export grant programs. She has a background in international trade and development working for consulting firms on development projects and for the World Bank. She has a master’s degree in European Studies and Trade and a bachelor’s degree in International Relations and Economics.

Susan Herr is a Small Business Program Manager focusing on Eastern Washington for OEDC. Susan’s career in state government began in 2005 in the Department of Financial Institutions, then transferred to Washington State Lottery and served as an Assistant Regional Manager and an Account Representative. Susan has owned and operated her own businesses as a retail state entrepreneur and as owner of an upscale women’s clothing boutique. As Commerce’s Small Business Program Manager for Eastern Washington, Susan will work closely with small businesses, helping them navigate all phases of the lifecycle, from startup to exit strategy. Her main focus is on the Thrive! Program.

Diana Cazac is a Small Business Program Manager for OEDC at Commerce and brings an extensive background in government administration, project management and public finance. Diana earned her bachelor’s degree in Finance at the Academy of Economic Studies of Moldova (AESM) and master’s degree in Economic Sciences with a specialization in Public Finance and Taxation at the Master School of Excellence in Economics & Business of Moldova. Diana also completed her PhD program in Public Finance at the Doctoral School of AESM. Prior to joining the OEDC, Diana worked for the Government of Moldova in several positions: as a senior consultant in the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister of Moldova, executive consultant at the Parliament and Ministry of Finance of the Republic of Moldova. Relocating to the U.S. with her family in 2019, she started a new chapter in her career at the Washington State Department of Social Health and Services. She most recently served as an Administrative Lead at King County Public Health, providing high-level administrative support and managing special projects for Mobile Medical Program.

Wednesday Webinars

Wednesday Webinars with SBA Seattle is an ongoing series of free, virtual, webinars covering a variety of topics to benefit small business owners. On the fourth Wednesday of each month, we will be focusing on export assistance, featuring conversations with different members of the Washington Export Outreach Team (WEOT). Established in 2013 following a national mandate to do more to support international trade, WEOT is a collaborative team of local, state, regional, and federal export assistance agencies who provide you the tools and resources you need to sell internationally.

About the Host

John Brislin is SBA’s International Trade & Finance Specialist (Export Finance Manager) for Washington State, Northern Idaho and Alaska. He has over 23 years of private-sector international banking and trade finance experience working at Bank of Boston (Bank of America) and Bank of California (U.S. Bank). John has over 12 years of public-sector export trade finance and risk mitigation experience working at Export Finance Assistance Center of Washington (EFACW), Export-Import Bank of the United States (EXIM Bank) and SBA Office of International Trade (SBA OIT). He looks forward to working with Small Businesses so they can turn their export opportunities into actual sales and to achieve the ultimate goal of getting paid—especially on time—for those sales.

Washington Export Outreach Team


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