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L.A., business groups form partnership to give export advice

October 31, 2011 |  1:46 pm

Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa turns toward Carmen Rad, president of CR&A Custom, as he discusses a new public-private export venture, the Los Angeles Regional Export Council. Credit: John Hoeffel / Los Angeles Times

Businesses in Los Angeles seeking to expand sales overseas will soon have a new resource: a partnership between the city, business groups, UCLA and USC that aims to simplify access to export advice.

The Los Angeles Regional Export Council, announced Monday by Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, will start by launching a website to help businesses find the specific services they need.

One of those highlighted by the mayor, the MBA Export Champions supported by a $320,000 federal grant, will link companies with students at the UCLA Anderson School of Management and USC Marshall School of Business to devise approaches to foreign markets.

“We’re forming the L.A. Regional Export Council to better coordinate the export services that are already available,” Villaraigosa said. “The goal of the council is to help companies find the export assistance they need to grow their business and create new jobs.”

The mayor credited the Brookings Institution, a Washington think tank, with inspiring the idea for the council. It will include the mayor’s office, the port, the airports, the Los Angeles Area Chamber of Commerce, the Centers for International Trade Development, the USC Center for International Business Education and Research and the UCLA Center for International Business Education and Research.

Villaraigosa made the announcement at a news conference at CR&A Custom, in a downtown industrial building that the firm has crisply renovated. Carmen Rad, the president, started the printing business in her home in 1993. It now has $3.4 million in annual sales and has 36 employees.

“We’re very serious about creating jobs,” Villaraigosa told the assembled business leaders, educators and media before introducing Rad and other speakers. “So serious they gave me a much longer speech than I am accustomed to, and I’m not reading it anymore.”

Rad’s company, which prints large-scale banners and advertising, exports to Puerto Rico, where Rad is from, and the Middle East, where her partner is from. She said they know how to navigate in those familiar areas, but would look to the new council for help exporting to other countries.

“We have a keen interest to enter new markets,” Rad said. “However, entering a new foreign market is a huge endeavor for a small company such as mine, and we need some support and a better understanding of how to enter foreign markets.”


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-- John Hoeffel at Los Angeles City Hall

Photo: Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa shares center stage with Carmen Rad, president of CR&A Custom, while discussing a new public-private export venture, the Los Angeles Regional Export Council. Credit: John Hoeffel / Los Angeles Times