Shaw University partners with U.S. Commerce Dept for global business resource center on campus

RALEIGH, N.C. (WTVD) — The oldest historically Black college in the South is now home to a new resource for small businesses trying to grow globally.

Raleigh’s Shaw University began a new partnership with the International Trade Administration, a federal agency tasked with helping American businesses expand into foreign markets. The partnership with Shaw brings the potential for big impacts for budding Black businesses.

“We were always the only or the youngest Black people in the room anyway,” said Larry Yon, Co-founder and president of Cyber Alliance. It’s been four years since Yon and his partner Kendrall Felder turned the Raleigh-based cyber security firm into a global business.

“We took our first trip to Africa in 2021, engaging customers in person. So we’ve been successful expanding across eight different countries on the continent of Africa as a North Carolina-based business,” said Yon.

How’d they do it? Leveraging partnerships with experts at the U.S. Commerce Department and its International Trade Administration.

There are ITA offices across the country. For years, Raleigh’s ITA branch was housed in a Brier Creek office park, until last month, when the Raleigh director signed the partnership agreement with Shaw — moving the office’s global business expertise to downtown Raleigh and Shaw’s campus.

The Raleigh Director of U.S Commercial Service, Shirreef Loza talked to ABC11 about what the move could mean for small Black businesses to have the resource closer to their communities.

“That was part of the intention and strategy of our move here,” Loza said. “These are areas that I wouldn’t say are under-served, I want to say we can just do a lot better of serving. This is a step in that direction.”

Greensboro-based Brilliant You Denim has its sights sets on international expansion. Founder, Terry Davis is now working with advisors at ITA on strategy. Her company is the first Black woman-owned jeans manufacturer in the U.S.

“The U.S. consumes the largest percentage of denim of any country. Western Europe is second,” Davis said. “It’s a great opportunity to expand your business.”

Cyber Alliance co-founder and CEO Kendrall Felder sees the Shaw office and correlating outreach programs as an opportunity to raise awareness about the government services available to up-and-coming companies.

“It’s important to us to help people understand that these channels exist and they should be taken advantage of because it’s a win for everyone at the table,” Felder said.

A ribbon-cutting ceremony for the new International Trade Administration office on South Street in downtown Raleigh is scheduled for September 7.

“We’re talking about how special it is to move onto an HBCU; these are untapped gems in our community,” said Loza who added that the event won’t just be a ceremony, it will also be a learning opportunity.

ITA is also hosting a program that day called Export University 101. Local small business owners are invited to hear from experts and explore their business’s potential in international markets.

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