MORGANTOWN -- Business leaders from across the state with hopes of expanding to Asia and other parts of the world are getting help at the West Virginia University College of Business and Economics.

Back in January, six businesses and 22 students began working together in teams, creating plans to enter the global marketplace. Students were scheduled to present their research to company executives during the final class session on Saturday, April 22. At the conclusion of the program, each student and business representative will be awarded an Export Manager Certificate.

"This class has already propelled my fledgling firm's strategic vision onto the global stage, which will result in the incubation of an internationally competitive enterprise headquartered in the mountain state," said Taylor Keadle, owner, founder and president of Neer Vending LLC in Buckhannon.

Another participant, William Clapham of Maxwelton, works for the Agricultural Research Service and is lead scientist of the Appalachian Pasture-based Beef Program. "Interacting with the business students is very stimulating," Clapham said. "They look at the world in different ways than a research scientist, and their points-of-view are very refreshing." Clapham is interested in exploring foreign markets for his products.

David Corbitt, president of Eagle Canon Passenger Car Corp. in Romney, runs scenic train excursions from May through November aboard restored locomotives. It's a business he thinks might work in China, and he's gaining insight into what it would take to develop the first tourist railroads there.

The export management program began in 2001 with the help of the West Virginia Export Council, the U.S. Department of Commerce, the West Virginia Economic Development Office and the WVU Center for Chinese Business. Classes are taught in Morgantown and Charleston.

Participants learn about the many features, steps and necessary skills of exporting, which includes identifying likely markets, barriers to entry, logistical and legal issues, and developing a market entry plan.

Guest speakers join the class to offer expertise in exporting, and students also learn from the experiences of West Virginia companies actively engaged in exporting. In addition, students and West Virginia companies have the opportunity to travel to China each summer through a study-abroad program.

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