FARGO — The newly-funded Rural Export Center, located in North Dakota State University’s Barry Hall, is now open and fully-staffed, according to U.S. Commercial Service officials.

The REC “promotes exports from rural America and equips rural U.S. companies with the research and resources to compete and win in the global marketplace,” according to a press statement.

The center was developed to increase rural American companies’ access to the global trade ecosystem, as well as the high-quality services and research tools available in larger metropolitan markets, officials said.

U.S. Sen. John Hoeven, R-N.D., through his role on the Senate Appropriations Committee, secured $500,000 in funding legislation to expand the USCS’s rural export capabilities, and "worked to ensure the funds benefited the existing Rural America Intelligence Service for Exporters (RAISE) program in Fargo," according to a statement released by Hoeven’s office.

“The REC builds on the good work of the Fargo USCS office, and we funded this expansion to ensure more rural businesses across the country can benefit from this team’s expertise and access opportunities in foreign markets,” Hoeven said. “That means more opportunities for investment and growth in rural America, further supporting our international leadership in sectors like agriculture, energy and manufacturing, among others.”

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According to officials, the center opened May 26 and employs five contractors: three full-time and two part-time, who are also NDSU students.

“All of North Dakota qualifies as rural under the agency’s definition,” officials said, “so all North Dakota companies are eligible for research assistance.”

The REC offers “in-depth market research and training to rural American (including ND and NW MN) exporters. The successful North Dakota and Minnesota companies that tested this program are the ‘poster children’ for the program, with their track records of success,” officials said via email.

The research methodologies were developed over a 10-year period by the U.S. Commercial Service in Fargo and have already been delivered to over 70 companies.

Companies from anywhere in rural America can request virtual consultations and assistance through the REC, and many can apply grants from the Small Business Administration’s State Trade Expansion Program towards REC services, according to press notes.

In addition to research services, the REC offers a series of virtual skills training, including website globalization and market research skills.

Companies can register for the Rural Export Center’s upcoming free webinar series beginning July 28 at https://www.trade.gov/rural-trainings.

To learn more about the Rural Export Center, visit trade.gov/rural-export-center. Companies can also request a free research consultation by emailing rural@trade.gov.