Many small businesses in Iowa want to expand to overseas markets but don't know where to start. An expanded program of the University of Iowa's Henry B. Tippie College of Business could provide the means to help more small companies go global.


The college's Institute for International Business has expanded its role to become an outreach arm of the university to help small and medium-sized businesses throughout Iowa expand their markets overseas. At the same time, the institute will continue to give undergraduates hands-on business experience.


"The goal is to use the resources of the University of Iowa to help Iowa businesses expand globally," the institute's new director, Dimy Doresca, said in a release. "Many of these businesses don't have the resources on their own to consider expanding internationally, so we can be their international development arm."


According to U.S. Commerce Department data, more than 3,300 businesses in Iowa exported their products and services in 2012. The majority of those companies were small businesses with 50 or fewer employees, Doresca said. Most active in global trade were Iowa businesses that sell medical equipment and information technology and business services. But the market has plenty of room for more, he said.


A native of Haiti, Doresca has worked for a number of nongovernmental organizations, international development organizations and investment banks in both the United States and Haiti. His first home in the United States was in Bettendorf as an exchange student. He returned to Iowa in 2005 to work for Stanley Consultants Inc. in Muscatine, and has taught international business at U of I since 2012.


Working with the Iowa Association of Business and Industry, Doresca is traveling throughout the state this fall to find three or four small businesses that want to go global. In the spring, he'll put together teams of undergraduate Tippie College of Business students to work as consultants, earning class credit while compiling research reports that give those clients the data and background they'll need to make an informed decision. He'll also visit Iowa business and civic groups to extol the benefits of international business.