Exporting: A big opportunity for West Virginia small businesses

exporting is good for West Virginia

Young female small business owner

Exporting isn’t just for big companies. Small and medium businesses represent 97 percent of the 270,290 businesses that engaged in international sales in 2020, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

West Virginia exports reached a total of $4.6 billion in 2020. Of the 134 countries West Virginia exported to in 2020, top markets included Canada, India, China, Ukraine and Netherlands. Coal, plastics, chemicals, automotive parts and machinery represented our top industry sectors.


Never explored exporting before? Consider these facts as you look into the possibility. 

Customers.  Nearly 96 percent of the world’s potential customers live outside the United States. Many of these international businesses have a demand for West Virginia products.

Profits. The U.S. Department of Commerce’s International Trade Administration reports that companies that export are 17 percent more profitable than those that don’t.

Diversification. This may be a reason that often gets overlooked. Exporting allows businesses to diversify their customer portfolio which helps them navigate the changes in the U.S. economy. Exporting can smooth business cycles, including sales for products related to seasonal use.

Impact for West Virginia industries

Just think of West Virginia’s hardwood lumber or mining equipment manufacturers. Both are key industries in our state. Without exporting, many of these businesses may not be here today

How can my business start to explore exporting?

West Virginia ExportsWest Virginia businesses don’t have to jump into exporting alone. If you’re new to exporting, the West Virginia Department of Economic Development  team and partners in the U.S. Commercial Service at the federal level can provide consulting and guidance to get you started. If you’re already exporting, the Economic Development  team can provide opportunities to expand your potential. Events such as trade missions create opportunities for West Virginia businesses to get in front of prospective foreign buyers and connect with potential distributors. 

The West Virginia Department of Economic Development can help you access the data you need and the opportunities you desire for optimal success. Along with our trade shows/missions and our Export Assistance Program, we offer continued support through Market Research and  STEP grant funding for export promotion.

Market Research
The West Virginia Department of Economic Development offers customized market research upon request. We compile market research reports from multiple sources to give your company a complete assessment of your potential in a particular market.

STEP Grant
West Virginia is proud to offer grant assistance to small businesses looking to enter or expand in the global marketplace through the U.S. Small Business Administration’s State Trade Expansion Program (STEP).  Any small business in West Virginia, regardless of their level of export development experience is invited to learn about the West Virginia STEP program.

Upcoming opportunities!

Trade events in 2022 include:

Virtual Trade Mission to South East Asia + Taiwan, April 4-15.

South America Trade Mission and Business Conference – May 15-20.

Central America Trade Mission and Business Conference – August 21-26.

Caribbean Region Trade Mission and Business Conference – October 23-28.


These markets represent great opportunity for West Virginia small and medium-sized companies offering building products, mining machinery, medical equipment, analytical instruments and other industrial and consumer products.

For more information on West Virginia Department of Economic Development export opportunities, visit westvirginia.gov or click here to get in touch with a representative.

About the Author

Enybe Diaz WVDOEnybe Diaz has been an International Trade Manager for the West Virginia Department of Economic Development since 2013. Diaz is passionate about promoting West Virginia exports by creating awareness of the benefits of exporting and helping companies increase sales to overseas markets. She also acts as the director of the West Virginia State Trade Expansion Program (STEP) which provides funding for export promotion to West Virginia small businesses. During her time with the West Virginia Development Office, Diaz has organized trade missions to Mexico, Canada, China, Japan, UAE, Poland and Romania. Prior to joining the West Virginia Development Office, Diaz worked for local small business Maggie’s Salsa where she was mainly responsible for acquiring new super market accounts. Diaz is originally from Mexico where she obtained a degree in International Business from Tecnologico de Monterrey in Culiacan, Sinaloa. Prior to moving to the United States in 2009, Diaz worked as an Import Coordinator for a supermarket chain and as an International Sales Representative for a manufacturer of fruit concentrates. She also spent a year in Valence, France teaching Spanish to high school students and studying French. Enybe is married to Brandon and they have a daughter named Lucia (born 2013) and a son named Oliver (born 2016) and a son named Samuel (born 2018). They live in Charleston, WV and they enjoy hiking, skiing and bike riding.