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Business & Economy

Forum Helps Utah Businesses Expand Through International Trade

Andrea Smardon
Governor Gary Herbert speaks at The Utah Global Forum.

A global forum is taking place at the Salt Palace Wednesday. The conference hosted by the Governor’s Office of Economic Development is designed to help Utah businesses expand beyond local borders through imports and exports.

When it comes to international trade, Utah’s growth is above the national average. Governor Gary Herbert says the state has doubled its import-export business over the last 10 years.

“But I’m here to tell you I think we’re just barely scratching the surface,” Herbert says. “I think the potential that we have worldwide is incredible.”

Governor Herbert has set a statewide goal to increase value-added exports from 7.4 billion dollars to 9 billion dollars over the next 5 years. US Assistant Secretary of Commerce Arun Kumar attended the conference. He says Utah is already doing well, and the Governor’s ambitious goal can only help.

“This is a very inspiring conference to see the energy here, the cooperation, the sharing of ideas,” Kumar says. “I think this will all lead to raising the bar for everybody in Utah.”

Natalie Kattas is General Manager of Kattas Enterprises in Salt Lake City and was one of the presenters at the conference. Her company makes products out of plastic for utilities, transportation, and medical industries. Kattas recently landed a multimillion dollar contract with the Mexican federal government.

“Last year, our international sales grew by 900 percent,” Kattas says. “So we’re excited. We’re not done; we’re going to continue to utilize the resources that the state has to offer.”

Kattas has been on trade missions to Mexico, Israel, and the United Kingdom. Her company has also received grants through the Governor’s Office of Economic Development to offset the costs of international market research. While she is attending the conference to share her success story, she says she’s also learning from others.

“Actually I have learned a lot about how other larger companies have gone about exporting… because that’s where we want to be,” Kattas says. “We want to grow up to be a large company.”

This is the first year for the Utah Global Forum. Conference organizers say they’re pleased to have more than 450 attendees.

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