Frost Brown Todd partners in virtual trade missions between Cincinnati and overseas companies

April 5, 2011 By Feoshia Henderson
Cincinnati
Soapbox Cincinnati

Frost Brown Todd has just begun hosting what the law firm hopes will be a series of virtual trade missions, where regional companies meet with firms abroad to boost U.S. exports.

These trade missions occur at the firm's downtown Cincinnati offices, and partner six to eight U.S. and foreign-based companies through video conferencing. The meetings are in partnership with the U.S. Consulate and the U.S. Commerce Department's US Export Assistance Center in Cincinnati.

The most recent one, on March 8, was between Cincinnati area firms and companies in Saudi Arabia, whose representatives connected via U.S. embassy feed. The Saudi firms were looking for architecture, construction and engineering services.

"There is a lot of money in Saudi Arabia, and they are building whole cities there. They tend to import architecture and construction services because there are not many providers there. It's a great opportunity for smaller-sized engineering and architecture firms in Cincinnati," said Joseph Dehner, chair of the international services group at Frost Brown Todd.

The sessions are done in a group setting and in total last about two hours. Each U.S. and Saudi company has about five minutes each to introduce their companies, skills or needs followed by a question and answer period.

The law firm designed the idea for the missions and garnered the participation of the U.S. government. In addition to Saudi Arabia, the law firm also hosted a meeting between regional companies and Egyptian firms late last year. A life sciences trade mission is planned in June with Indian companies in partnership with the India-US Business Network. You can register here.

Each company is selected beforehand based on specific projects and abilities to make the meeting its most effective. And though nothing beats an in-person meeting, this comes pretty close, and saves companies travel dollars and time.

"Why spend the time and money traveling. This way it's pretty easy to meet eight companies that might actually hire you," Dehner said.

A couple of companies have already received work from the Egyptian meeting, Dehner said. It's too early to know the results of the Saudi Arbian one, he added.

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