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Global trade focus of Shepherd conference

February 09, 1999|By DAVE McMILLION, Charles Town

SHEPHERDSTOWN, W.Va. - Business in the Eastern Panhandle is gradually taking on a international feel, from Taiwanese aircraft manufacturing plants to increased dependence on imports to make local products.

State and federal economic development officials hope to build on the trend when they open an international business conference at Shepherd College next month.

Business owners who want to attend the conference will have to pay $150, but Christina Lundberg said it is worth the price.

The large number of international economic experts that will come together to share their knowledge creates a rare opportunity, said Lundberg, financial analyst for the Small Business Development Center at Shepherd.

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U.S. Department of Commerce officials will come to describe "Gold Key," a service that sets up translators and international shipping services for U.S. businesses.

Patrick Tunison, an international development specialist for the U.S. Small Business Administration, will tell anxious global market competitors how to do business with international banks or make currency transfers, Lundberg said.

Embassy representatives from Germany, France, the United Kingdom, Norway and the Netherlands will be available to help entrepreneurs make the contacts they need in those countries to do business, according to organizers of the second annual International Business and Economics Training at Shepherd.

Organizers will also focus on a new West Virginia trade office in Munich, Germany, which has been attracting interest because of its stable business climate, said Hannah Geffert, who is helping to organize the conference.

The trade office opened six weeks ago, making it the state's second; one was opened in Japan two years ago.

The conference, which will be held March 1-3, will also offer a panel discussion of businesses doing trade in Europe.

The conference is part of a growing number of international business programs being held at Shepherd College. Local residents say they like the foreign influence coming to town.

"We look forward to that type of thing," Mayor Vince Parmesano said. "I think it adds a lot to the town."

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