ExportThe U.S. Small Business Administration, in keeping with President Barack Obama’s National Export Initiative, is hosting an Export Matchmaker Trade Fair and Conference today at the Westin Hotel in Jersey City, N.J.

Companies from the Mid-Atlantic Region and beyond have been invited to participate in an event that is designed to match small businesses with export management and trading companies that either will buy or sell their products overseas, or represent their products in foreign markets through a distribution agreement or other contractual arrangement.

Harry Menta, spokesman for the SBA office in New Jersey, said the goal of the conference is to attract a variety of manufacturers, suppliers, distributors, and export agents, including individuals who can take title to goods and export them, or agents who can broker deals and take a percentage of the export sale. He expects the event to attract at least 200 attendees.

SBA administrator Karen Mills said working with an export management company or an export trading company is often the fastest and most cost-effective way for small businesses to begin exporting or expanding their export sales. She said small business owners like the concept because they initially do not have to commit additional staff to get the process started.

Nearly 280,000 small businesses account for 97 percent of the exporters in the country, exporting almost $500 billion. With President Obama’s National Export Initiative seeking to double U.S. exports in five years, the idea behind the conference is to introduce more small business owners to exporting, Mills explained. The conference will offer seminars on topics ranging from export financing to international marketing and will feature Jospeh Hurd, senior director of Export Promotion and Trade Policy for the U.S. Department of Commerce, as keynote speaker.

In addition to matchmaking, the SBA is encouraging trade intermediaries from across the country, as well as foreign buying missions, foreign consulates, bi-national chambers of commerce, shippers and other trade or export services organizations to attend the conference. Registration and additional information can be obtained at www.exportmatchmaker.org.