Students and faculty in our International Business (IB) Program continue to demonstrate that world-class opportunities are available to those willing to reach for them. Earlier this year lead authors, Iris Varner and Peter Kaufman, secured a 2-year $165,000 (total) federal grant from the U.S. Department of Education to support international business education opportunities.

A select group of students were asked to apply for the Export Project. Only 12 students were asked to interview for the 6 available positions.Participants in the 2008 Summer Export Project to Argentina are Rosanna Fugate (IB / Spanish), Michelle Prinsloo (double major IB/Org. Leadership), Laura Kane (Marketing/IB minor Spanish), Michael Kodat (Marketing/Economics), Tim Schmidgall (Agribusiness / Economics), and Corey Leslie (Construction Mgmt. / Accountancy).

The students are spending spring semester conducting research and writing export marketing plans for two Illinois-based companies expanding internationally. They are investigating cultural, political, legal, financial, competitors and economic issues, as well trade policy. Maui Jim, based in Peoria, is a manufacturer of high-end sun wear.  The company is interested in locating a distribution center and retail site in Argentina. The Carus Corporation, based in Peru, is in the water purification business. Currently Carus is the largest manufacturer of permanganate in the world, a chemical that cleans water.  The firm which is currently building a plant in China and recently purchased a plant in Spain is interested in learning about how some of their current products may be used in the agricultural sector in Argentina.

The students, along with Marketing Department faculty members Peter Kaufman and Horace Melton, will spend four weeks in Buenos Aires doing field research.  Their work will include visits to the countryside to meet with growers for Carus and evaluate the competition. For Maui Jim, the goal is to build a market entry model for Argentina that can be applied other foreign markets the firm may want to enter.

All costs for lodging and food and local transportation will be paid for through the grant.  The students, who will receive 3-credit hours for their work, will pay for their airfare and their personal expenses. The experience to those involve is priceless. “How many students have the opportunity to claim international consulting experience on their resumes while still in college!” said Kaufman.

Laura Kane was immediately intrigued by the opportunity because it specifically related to her career goal of conducting international market research.  “I am an international business and marketing major, Spanish minor and I wanted to obtain more experience that would allow me to apply what I have learned so far in my academic career,” explained Kane. “This experience also helps me set myself apart from other students who are seeking employment in the highly competitive job market.”

The Export Program will be doubled the following year. It is anticipated that the 12 students selected for participation will travel to locations in Asia and Europe in June 2009.

A program administrator from the U.S. Dept. of Education Business and International Education grantee conference in St. Louis was so impressed with the ISU Export Program model, he asked Varner and Kaufman to present at the next conference under the label of “Best Practices”.