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MDC Expands Minority Export Training Program to Help Small Exporters Drive New Sales and Profits

College program backed by government grant recruiting through July 30, 2009
MET Program Participants-TropicalDelights

Tropical Delights Daiquiris, a family-owned business based in Kendall, is one of 70 small businesses that have prospered since participating in the Minority Export Training Program. Tropical Delights owners Bruce and Courtenay Carr-Russo, said the free training came at the perfect time; saving their business from a 20 percent loss in sales.

Miami, April 1, 2009 - Selling to foreign markets is often harder than selling in the U.S., and for resource-strapped small businesses, it’s even harder. Realizing this, Miami Dade College (MDC) and the Southern U.S. Trade Association (SUSTA) are expanding a free training program that helps small minority and woman-owned agribusinesses learn how to generate new revenue and profits from exports. Miami Dade College and SUSTA are recruiting participants for a summer/fall 2009 MET program. The deadline to apply is July 30, 2009.

“Since 2003 with the Minority Export Training Program (MET), MDC has shown over 70 small businesses how to generate new international sales,” said Jerry Hingle, executive director of SUSTA. “MDC has consistently turned program participants into successful exporters and that is why we’re expanding MDC’s territory from Florida to include companies from throughout SUSTA’s region.”

SUSTA member states are Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Mississippi, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, West Virginia, and the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico. SUSTA is a non-profit export development association representing the 15 southern U.S. states and Puerto Rico on behalf of the United States Department of Agriculture. Services are provided free or for a nominal charge.  

Steve Colyer, director of the MET at MDC, asserts, “Florida firms that the college has trained now export more than $50 million in agricultural products each year. I look forward to working this larger territory. I have found that there are many tools a business can use to generate export sales and ensure positive cash flow, but most firms don’t know these resources exist.”  

Julie Escobar of the Produce Connection and Courtenay Carr-Russo of Tropical Delight Daiquiris are testimony to that. “In 2004, we had few export sales. After taking the export training program, I realized the potential we had,” said Escobar. “Immediately, I started developing the Caribbean market. We have increased our export sales more than 350 percent, and in 2008 we received an Export Achievement Award from the U.S. Department of Commerce.” 

Carr-Russo of Tropical Delight Daiquiris recounts a similar story. “In 2006 we lost accounts representing 20 percent of gross sales. After participating in the MET, we used exports to recover that loss.”

She added, “We have done that, and in 2007, our export profits were up 200 percent. This program literally opened the world to us. Now, we have customers in 10 countries and are developing relationships in 12 more.”   

“I am so impressed by Julie (Escobar) and Courtenay (Carr-Russo),” said Colyer. “They used the tools and programs they learned about, both marketing and financial, to cultivate relationships and close sales. The program’s goal is that participants will find new customers and increase profits – and both Julie and Courtenay did that.”

Participation in the MET Program is free to qualified applicants. Composed of a series of eight internet-based seminars, participants learn from subject matter experts while viewing the seminar from their home or office. The seminars are followed by a year of coaching.

“I want participants to get knowledge, tools and contacts to help them export; meet successful graduates - like The Produce Connection and Tropical Delight Daiquiris – and find qualified prospective buyers,” said Colyer.

“Because of the program, we’re not intimidated by international sales anymore,” said Carr-Russo. “If you have a premium product, fair prices, and offer exceptional service, you can win foreign customers even if you’re small.” 

Miami Dade College and SUSTA are recruiting participants for a summer/fall 2009 MET program. The deadline to apply is July 30, 2009.

For more information about the MET Program, contact Steve Colyer at 305-237-7490  or

Media-only contacts:
Juan Mendieta, 305-237-7611,, MDC communications director
Tarnell Carroll, 305-237-3359,, media specialist
Sue Arrowsmith, 305-237-3710,, media specialist
Alejandro Rios, 305-237-7482,

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