Regional Innovation Centers (RICs) are geographic areas around the U.S. in which particular industries are clustered. Some examples include the Institute for Advanced Learning and Research in the Dan River Region of Virginia focusing on research and STEM education and the Joint venture Silicon Valley Network, focusing on IT. RIC are important because its a mutually supportive environment, companies in the area depend on each other for growth and the success of one can mean future growth for other companies in the area. The link for small businesses to RICs can occur in the SBDCs. Most land grant public universities have some sort of relationship with a RIC, and most of the innovations created at the university are funneled directly into the RIC for commercialization. Having a good relationship with your SBDC could help you understand two things; if your area is a RIC and what are the terms of entry into the regional community. Small start ups and small businesses struggle with R&D since it is expensive, tapping into a whole network who help its members with these costs might enhance your business.
The second area that i noticed were the trade agreements. The report, in its entirety, only devotes about 1.5 pages to trade agreements. it mentions the signing of the Colombia, South Korea and Panama agreements and the ongoing negotiations for the Trans-Pacific Partnership (negotiations currently include Australia, Chile, Peru, Singapore, Brunei Darussalam, Malaysia, New Zealand and Vietnam) This is not enough. Mentioning trade agreements that have already been signed and the negotiations for another is not enough to help our small businesses export their products. Program from the U.S Commercial Services should be discussed, as well as the SBA and the Export-Import Bank. Signing FTAs with other countries is just one of the answers, more avenues for our business to learn and follow trade leads are necessary.
The whole report can be found here
What do you think? Can RICs help your business grow? Is assisting companies in their export endeavors really a priority or not?
I look forward to reading your comments.