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Wisconsin program hooks up small businesses with foreign trade deals

Gross Automation owner Bob Gross says his company makes a variety of electrical components they send to companies all over the state.

"We put milk on your table," Gross said. We help put texture in your chocolate. We help put torpedoes against the bad guys in the water."

He says right now, international sales make up about 8 percent of his sales, but he expects that to double after taking a trip to South Korea and Japan to set up deals with foreign companies.

"My business is increasing dramatically because of this. It's something that allows us to benefit them."

It's the same story with RPRD in Wawautosa, which tests how drugs effect people with different genes. The focus on their trip to Asia, was a test for side effects of chemotherapy drug.

"That gene we test, has particular relevance for Asian patients," CEO Ulrick Broeckel said.

The state sets up the initial meetings. The Economic Development Corporation says the program has taken off since they began tailoring those meetings to specific companies.

"We have much more individualized service and support now than maybe we had ten or fifteen years ago," Katy Sinnott said. "I think in the past there may have been larger meetings and less focused individual meetings."

There are eight companies involved right now. Four of them are in the Milwaukee area.

The next trip is set to go to Israel at the end of October.

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