- The Washington Times - Wednesday, July 17, 2002

The D.C. government yesterday kicked off a partnership with the D.C. Chamber of Commerce designed to bring small and minority-owned businesses into the global economy.

The International Business Development Office, to be located at the chamber and funded by a $50,000 grant from the D.C. government, will focus on winning foreign procurement contracts for D.C. companies, said Barbara Lang, chamber president and chief executive officer.

Ms. Lang said the chamber hopes to carve out a niche among the area's economic-development agencies, such as the Greater Washington Initiative, which is devoted to promoting the region as a whole.

"What will distinguish this initiative is its focus on small and minority businesses," she said.

The office also marks the latest phase in the District's efforts to promote companies internationally.

The city government had a program, which did not include a partnership with the private sector, in the early 1990s. The chamber has a contract for international activities from the U.S. Small Business Administration, but it expires in the fall.

The chamber's international committee, which has about 200 members, will serve as a "feeder" for the new program, Ms. Lang said. Information technology, construction and consulting firms are the most likely candidates for working with the new office, which will provide them with "technical assistance" in locating sales opportunities overseas.

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