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OPIC Workshop Draws Small Businesses from U.S. Gulf States

May 10, 2012

NEW ORLEANS, Louisiana – A workshop for small businesses in the U.S. Gulf region organized by the Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC), the U.S. Government’s development finance institution, drew dozens of small business owners from across the region today, educating participants about how OPIC products can help them take advantage of lucrative investment opportunities in emerging markets.

The Expanding Horizons workshop, held at the Sheraton New Orleans, was the latest in a highly successful series that has educated more than 1600 small and medium-sized business owners across the United States about OPIC products and services. Participants at today’s workshop represented small businesses from Alabama, Louisiana, Mississippi and Texas.

“Small businesses are the essential engine of the American economy, generating two-thirds of U.S. jobs and roughly half of our GDP – yet they depend on the same opportunities to succeed as others. OPIC is uniquely positioned to enable SMEs in the U.S. Gulf region to make the most of investment opportunities in high-growth emerging markets – and business owners certainly took full advantage of that today,” said OPIC Director of Public Affairs Dr. Lawrence Spinelli.
In a videotaped introduction to the workshop, U.S. Senator Mary Landrieu (D-LA) said, “I thank OPIC for putting on such a timely event. Small businesses and start-ups continue to lead us out of the recession by creating new and higher-paying jobs and lessening our trade deficit. By entering into international business, it is these businesses that will make our nation better able to compete and win in the global marketplace. That’s what this workshop today is all about.” 

OPIC speakers outlined the innovative financial tools – among them financing and political risk insurance – that the agency has used for 40 years to help U.S. businesses successfully invest in emerging markets. Participants also received detailed guidance on applying for OPIC support. 

Other speakers included senior officials from the U.S. Small Business Administration, the U.S. Trade and Development Agency, the U.S. Department of Commerce, including the U.S. Commercial Service, and Louisiana Economic Development.

OPIC has enjoyed a close relationship with the Gulf states, enabling many of the region’s businesses to invest successfully in emerging markets. In addition to the financial commitments and jobs supported, OPIC projects involving Gulf companies have since 1971 generated $10.2 billion in U.S. exports and supported more than 45,000 U.S. jobs across the country. Goods and services provided by Gulf suppliers to OPIC projects are valued at $4.1 billion.

Organizations supporting the Expanding Horizons workshop were the Alabama Development Organization; Alabama International Trade CenterAsian Chamber of Commerce of LouisianaLe Centre International de LafayetteLouisiana Economic DevelopmentLouisiana Small Business Development Center, State Office; Mississippi Development Authority; Mobile Minority Business Development Agency, Business Center; St. Tammany Economic Development FoundationTri-County Black Chamber of Commerce; and World Trade Center New Orleans.

Since 2006, OPIC has held Expanding Horizons events in Atlanta, Chicago, Los Angeles, Miami, Newark, Houston, San Francisco, Boston, St. Louis, Denver, Philadelphia, Orange (CA) and Raleigh.


OPIC is the U.S. Government’s development finance institution.  It mobilizes private capital to help solve critical development challenges and in doing so, advances U.S. foreign policy.  Because OPIC works with the U.S. private sector, it helps U.S. businesses gain footholds in emerging markets catalyzing revenues, jobs and growth opportunities both at home and abroad.  OPIC achieves its mission by providing investors with financing, guarantees, political risk insurance, and support for private equity investment funds.

Established as an agency of the U.S. Government in 1971, OPIC operates on a self-sustaining basis at no net cost to American taxpayers. OPIC services are available for new and expanding business enterprises in more than 150 countries worldwide. To date, OPIC has supported more than $200 billion of investment in over 4,000 projects, generated an estimated $75 billion in U.S. exports and supported more than 276,000 American jobs.