SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — A new nonprofit association officially opened this week in South Dakota.  It’s thanks to a public private partnership between the state and 25 other businesses and organizations coming together to help foster international trade.

How South Dakota Trade hopes to help more local companies reach a global audience in tonight’s Your Money Matters.

“A lot of people may not realize, 27,000 jobs in the state of South Dakota are directly supported by exports. So on top of that, about 10 percent of our state’s economy is also tied to international trade,” South Dakota Trade President and CEO Luke Lindberg

While it’s already a significant impact, Lindberg knows there’s a huge potential for more South Dakota companies to expand into international trade. A recent study from the U.S. Small Business Administration found that 41 percent of all American businesses have a good or service that could expand into international markets.

“If you think about that across South Dakota, that’s a large number of businesses,” Lindberg said. “Many of them just need that first helping hand to get over the hump of, this sounds a little scary, how do I do this effectively and that’s where South Dakota trade comes in.”

“Producing a product and getting it to the world marketplace is complicated, but when you have friends and you have experience to help navigate those waters, it makes it really straightforward,” John Mollison with Houdek said. 

John Mollison is the Director of Communications for Houdek, formerly known as Prairie AquaTech, South Dakota’s Exporter of the Year in 2022.

“Exporting is key, right now 75 to 80 percent of our products are exported around the world,” Mollison said.

Mollison says making connections with others already in the global market is the best way help more South Dakota companies grow internationally.

“You need friends, need to know people who have been there and know the ropes,” Mollison said.

It’s the kind of connections the new South Dakota Trade association plans to make for any interested business in the state.

“We’ve found the most likely success for a trade negotiated deal is when you put a willing buyer and a willing seller in the same room and they have the opportunity to interact with one another,” Lindberg said. 

South Dakota Trade will be organizing trade missions and reverse trade missions on behalf of the state to help develop relationships with foreign buyers but they’re also working to provide exporting education and consulting to help businesses get started with international trade.

“So they get both the education they need on how to, but also a real game plan that says this is where I need to export to and how to identify the right markets for my specific product,” Lindberg said.

South Dakota Trade just secured a $175,000 federal grant to help small businesses in the state cover expenses related to export development.