THIS Friday, June 9, sees the deadline for local businesses hoping to break into the US market by taking part in a special trade mission leaving for Boston Massachusetts in November.
The 2017 Trade and Investment Mission, November 14 – 17, offers places for 12 local companies across a range of industries, and is being led jointly by Donegal County Council and Derry City and Strabane District Council.
It’s the perfect opportunity for local enterprises to scope out opportunities in what is recognised as one of the most economically developed, densely populated and culturally diverse regions in the US.
This will be the second Trade and Investment Mission led by the councils to this region and will endeavour to nurture and develop existing relationships with key economic, business, political and civic connections in the Boston Massachusetts area which have been progressing since 2008.
One local company who joined the trip last year is Northbound Brewery, a craft beer producer specialising in premium hand crafted beers based in Campsie. The business has been exploring a number of export opportunities for its products, and found the trade mission opened a number of doors in terms of making distribution contacts and generating inspiration for innovative new products.
After a decade living in Australia where the craft beer industry is established and thriving, Northbound owner Martina Rogers and her husband David made the bold decision to base their new business here in the North West, hoping to corner a new market, and enjoy the benefits of the exceptional living conditions here.
“The local craft beer industry is really just catching up with the UK and US in terms of popularity. Obviously we wanted our business to succeed, but quality of life is high on our agenda, and when it came to deciding where we wanted to raise our children the North West simply offered a great proposition. It helped that at the time there was no other local craft beer producers and plenty of initiatives there to support fledgling businesses.
“People’s expectations here have changed too. Consumers demand good quality, they are concerned about where their produce comes from and they want to buy local. There has definitely been a revolution in that sense and I think we have benefitted from that.”
Having established a dedicated local following for their naturally sourced products, Martina explained that the company hoped to explore the idea of finding new markets attracted to the idea of a homegrown beer with Irish roots.
“We’ve been lucky enough to have progressed steadily since opening and our products are now stocked in shops such as Marks and Spencers, and local shops and restaurants are very supportive of the brand. The next step for us is looking at other export markets, and that’s why we decided to join last year’s trade mission.
“There’s a natural synergy between here and the US but we had a lot of research to do in terms of how a local small scale company could break into that market. There is a lot of bureaucracy in terms of importing alcohol into the States as it’s very heavily regulated. We also wanted to do some market research as the industry is so far ahead over there. The trip was very beneficial in terms of establishing new contacts for distributors, and we had the chance to tour a brewery in Worcestor giving us an insight into the future of craft brewing.
“As a new company it’s very difficult to influence people in a new market so this was certainly a learning experience for us and we’re happy with the progress we’ve made. We’ll continue now to develop new products to appeal to a local market, but with a view to identifying more possible export opportunities in the US, France and Italy.”
Any local business hoping to share the benefits enjoyed by Northbound during their Boston trip can submit an expression of interest to council until the June 9 deadline. Potential delegates will receive support throughout the trip and will have the chance to participate in a pre-mission assistance programme, as well as post-trip follow up support. A financial support package towards flights and hotel accommodation is available (50% contribution towards flights and up to £100 per night hotel accommodation) and companies will benefit from extensive local media coverage to heighten their presence in the market.
Anyone interested in finding out more about the 2017 Trade and Investment Mission to Boston should go to www.derrystrabane.com/bostoncalling, or contact Rosalind Young/Adam Goodall at Derry City and Strabane District Council or Michael Tunney, Donegal Local Enterprise Office, email firstname.lastname@example.org or ring 00353749160735.