Export Assistance

For companies that have never exported their products or services internationally, the process can seem daunting. However, the payoff is worth it.

Here are ten reasons why you should consider getting into the export business:

  • 95% of global consumers are outside of the U.S.
    If a U.S. business is only selling domestically, it is not reaching the majority of potential customers.
  • Free trade agreements (FTA) with 20 countries
    Free Trade Agreements make it easier and cheaper for you to export your product or service by reducing barriers to U.S. interests abroad, and creating a more stable and transparent investment environment.
  • U.S. products have a competitive advantage
    The U.S. is known for its high-quality goods and services, and Kentucky-made products are no exception. Whether it is glass, automobiles, bourbon, or transportation equipment, the world wants Kentucky-made products.
  • Develop economies of scale
    Exporting allows businesses with excess production capacity to produce more goods and spread costs across multiple markets, thus achieving economies of scale.
  • Spur innovation
    Exposure to new technologies, customer requirements, cultural environments, and more competition can all help boost creativity and innovation.
  • Mitigate risk
    Exporting helps companies diversify their revenue streams and reduce dependence on the domestic market. As a result, companies that export have an easier time riding out fluctuations in the U.S. economy.
  • Derive benefits from seasonality
    Businesses that sell seasonal products, particularly farmers and agribusinesses, can use exporting to turn idle inventory into sales and generate year-long revenue helping level out seasonal fluctuations in product demand.
  • Extend product life cycle and expand sales
    A product may become obsolete in one market, but still have relevance in another. By exporting that product overseas, companies can extend the life cycle of a product and maintain a steady revenue stream even when they reach saturation in domestic markets.
  • Increase productivity
    Exporting can expose your business to new ideas and business processes and provide opportunities to improve your knowledge and increase your competitiveness. Together, these advantages can increase the productivity of your business.
  • Enjoy faster growth
    Exporting can be profitable for businesses of all sizes. On average, because exporting companies have a broad, diverse customer base, their sales grow faster, more jobs are created, and employees earn more than in non-exporting firms.

High global demand for Kentucky-made products and services has made exporting an approximate $26 billion industry in the Bluegrass State. Let the Kentucky Export Initiative partners help you navigate the international marketplace.

What Kentucky products can be exported? Virtually anything for which there is demand. Here are the product categories currently in the most demand internationally (as of 2015).

Kentucky’s Top 10 Industry Exports During 2015

NAICS Industry 2015
- TOTAL ALL INDUSTRIES $ 27,563,481,812
3364 Aerospace Products And Parts $   8,703,903,325
3361 Motor Vehicles $   3,452,158,867
3254 Pharmaceuticals And Medicines $   1,664,412,768
3363 Motor Vehicle Parts $   1,544,087,008
3252 Resin, Synthetic Rubber, & Artificial & Synthetic Fibers & Filament $   1,192,960,331
3251 Basic Chemicals $      986,775,671
3336 Engines, Turbines, And Power Transmission Equipment $      522,695,981
3345 Navigational, Measuring, Electromedical, And Control Instruments $      522,178,923
3339 Other General Purpose Machinery $      420,034,336
3121 Beverages $      415,422,973

Kentucky’s Top 10 Export Destinations During 2015

Country  2015
Canada  $   7,233,788
United Kingdom  $   2,557,080
Mexico  $   2,235,958
China  $   1,925,272
France  $   1,756,042
Brazil  $   1,738,934
Japan  $   1,164,016
Germany  $      945,452
Netherlands  $      943,094
Singapore  $      869,343

Many Kentucky small businesses have been able to market products internationally. Here are just a few of the products that have been exported, thanks to efforts by the Kentucky Export Initiative:

  • Grill accessories
  • Wood products
  • Gourmet food
  • Alcoholic beverages
  • Entertainment education
  • Furs and accessories
  • Sewing, needlework and accessories
  • Ski products
  • Golf cars

In short, if you think your product has global potential, contact us and we will help you get started.

The Kentucky Export Initiative provides a variety of services to help businesses get started. Those include a readiness assessment, trade education seminars, matchmaking sessions, and trade missions. We even have grant money available to assist in your efforts.

Here is more information about each of the services we provide:


The federal government’s International Trade Administration (trade.gov) has created an online assessment that can help you determine your readiness to export products. Access that assessment form here.

Assessment Form


Since 2010, the Kentucky Export Initiative partners have traveled to dozens of communities throughout the Commonwealth talking to businesses of all shapes and sizes about exporting. Working with local and regional Chambers of Commerce and economic development authorities, KEI partners can provide an introduction to exporting and resources to help businesses access international markets.

If you would like for us to conduct a KEI seminar in your community, please contact us.


Our partner organizations bring a wide array of skills and specialties to the table that can help you, your business, and your communities succeed. Export education and certification programs are available on topics ranging from logistics to market entry strategies and can be tailored to your unique needs.

For more information about our partner organizations and their services, please see our partner profiles or please contact us.


The KEI partnership is experienced in business matchmaking for Kentucky companies interested in locating international partners. Matchmaking can be done on an individual basis or as a part of targeted trade missions. For more information about our partner organizations and their services, please see our partner profiles or please contact us.


KEI periodically hosts trade missions for companies of all sizes. Contact kyexports@ky.gov for details.


Since 2011, the Kentucky Export Initiative has provided financial assistance to over 200 Kentucky companies through the State Trade Expansion Program (STEP). The STEP program provides a grant that can be used for a variety of trade services, including:

  • support for small business participation in foreign trade missions and foreign market sales trips;
  • subscription to services by the Department of Commerce;
  • translation services;
  • design of international marketing media;
  • trade show exhibitions;
  • participation in training workshops; and
  • other export initiatives determined to be appropriate by the SBA.


Kentucky has been awarded more than $1.4 million by the U.S. Small Business Administration’s Office of International Trade to promote exporting activities for Kentucky’s small businesses. This program has helped Kentucky companies across the state establish an international presence and grow their businesses.

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