The Metro Export Challenge (MEC), an initiative of the Atlanta Metro Export Plan (MEP) intended to drive growth of international sales for companies in the region, has recruited new partners this year to target a different range of companies, including startups and minority and women-owned businesses. The MEC competition identifies 25 companies in the region that are worthy of $5,000 in extra capital to help drive export growth.
MEC, which is supported on the corporate side by JPMorgan Chase & Co. and UPS, now counts Morehouse College Entrepreneurship Center, through the recently-announced Ascend2020 program, as a partner. Ascend 2020, also brought to Atlanta though JPMorgan Chase, will help grow minority and women-owned tech companies in the city.
Ania Lackey, the Metro Atlanta Chamber’s Senior Director of Global Business Development, says the partnership will allow the MEP to connect with companies that had not been reached as directly by the Challenge in its previous year.
“This partnership gives us an opportunity to get directly in front of those companies and explain how to tap into the resources of our region to expand sales internationally. Going international requires operational and logistical infrastructure that startup companies may not be ready for just yet, so this partnership will provide those companies with content and knowledge for how to prepare for that point, and put the necessary resources into place so we can get them ready when the time is right,” says Lackey.
“It will allow us to maximize the global potential of minority- and women-owned startups in metro Atlanta.”
And looking to expand to the world stage is important for the region as a whole – every $1 billion in exports creates 6,000 new jobs.
“We know that when companies grow exports, they grow jobs,” says Metro Atlanta Chamber’s Vice President of Global Commerce Jorge Fernandez. “With 95 percent of the world’s consumers located outside the U.S., the export potential is tremendous. This is a real opportunity for our companies in the region to grow sales abroad and jobs here.”
Partnership Gwinnett, a public-private organization dedicated to bringing new companies and expanding and retaining jobs in Gwinnett County, has also joined the MEC with a capital commitment. Last year’s Challenge saw seven Gwinnett companies receive grants for a total of $45,000.
To apply for the Challenge, companies must complete an assessment and a formal application. Applications close Friday, May 19.
Following the first round, 14 of the selected companies will compete in a Pitch Day, where three will be selected by a panel of judges for additional grants of $5,000, $10,000, and a top winner of $20,000. UPS will also offer international shipping credits to companies following Pitch Day.
Companies can apply for the Challenge here.