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U.S. Commerce Department's CommerceConnect Expands Into Charlotte, North Carolina

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Friday, June 3, 2011
CONTACT OFFICE OF PUBLIC AFFAIRS
202-482-4883

CommerceConnect business assistance initiative in Charlotte one of 16 to launch this year

Following the launch of its Michigan office last September, the U.S. Commerce Department’s CommerceConnect is expanding into Charlotte, N.C., one of 16 regions where the service is being launched this year.

Announced in 2009, CommerceConnect is a one-stop-shop initiative in which Commerce Department employees are cross-trained so that they have the ability to connect firms to the full menu of Commerce programs and can link business owners with other federal, state, local and nonprofit resources. The effort is designed to cut through red tape and simplify access to services and resources that can help companies grow, create jobs and become more efficient.

Newly cross-trained Commerce staff working in existing local department offices are beginning to assist Charlotte area businesses – no matter where they are in their life cycle, whether just getting off the ground or looking to expand into overseas markets – in collaboration with state and local partners.

“We are excited to expand CommerceConnect to cities across the country so we can help even more U.S. businesses grow and create jobs in their communities,” CommerceConnect Executive Director Dennis Alvord said. “We look forward to working with companies in the Charlotte region and leveraging our extensive resources to assist them in reaching their business objectives.”

Trained CommerceConnect specialists can assess clients’ business needs – whether it's access to capital, intellectual property protection, export promotion or guidance on how to make operations more efficient – and refer them to appropriate resources.

“Small businesses are the engine of the North Carolina economy, representing more than 98 percent of North Carolina's private sector employers and nearly half of our state’s jobs,” said U.S. Sen. Kay Hagan. “Our state has a strong tradition of innovation and entrepreneurship, and our work force is the best in the country. The CommerceConnect initiative in Charlotte will be a great resource for our North Carolina businesses to harness those strengths. As a member of the Senate Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship, I am committed to working with my colleagues in the Senate and partners in the federal government to build a better climate for small businesses to create jobs and grow.”

“This program will help our local businesses to better compete in global markets, providing them increased access to opportunity and helping to promote our American ingenuity,” saidU.S. Rep. Larry Kissell. “I welcome this announcement, and my office will work to help our constituents in any way possible to take advantage of this wonderful opportunity.”

“This initiative will allow businesses and entrepreneurs to get connected quickly to state and federal resources they need to succeed,” said Gov. Bev Perdue. “This is exactly the kind of federal and state collaboration we need to help businesses grow.”

“The U.S. Department of Commerce’s decision to bring CommerceConnect services to Charlotte is another step toward connecting local small businesses to the global economy,” said Mayor Anthony Foxx. “This effort will leverage federal assistance through the Department of Commerce and add to the seamless service provided by the State of North Carolina through Business Link North Carolina (www.blnc.com) and the City of Charlotte’s new business web portal (www.charlottebusinessresources.com).”

CommerceConnect began as a pilot program in Michigan in 2009. Following its success, Locke announced the opening of a permanent CommerceConnect office in Pontiac, Mich., in September of 2010. CommerceConnect has a strong track record of building effective enterprise assistance networks in areas that have traditionally been fragmented and ineffective at advancing larger regional economic goals in a collaborative and cohesive manner. Since last October, the program has worked with over 440 new firms, referring them to more than 890 targeted business solutions, nine Commerce Department bureaus, and more than 50 federal, state and local partner organizations.

The CommerceConnect network has expanded since its initial pilot to include not only a Michigan field office, but also a Gulf Coast initiative and growing contingent of cross-trained specialists in Commerce Department field offices in 16 additional regions across the country, as well as a national call center and web portal. Today, CommerceConnect also announced business assistance in Middletown, Conn., and Birmingham, Ala.

Businesses in the Charlotte area interested in working with CommerceConnect specialists can contact the CommerceConnect Call Center at 1-888-728-4190 or visit www.CommerceConnect.gov.