A new project involving the University of Iowa is designed to help small businesses in the state expand their markets overseas. Dimy Doresca, director of the U-I Institute for International Business, says teams of undergraduate students will work as consultants, earning class credit while compiling research reports for several Iowa businesses with fewer than 50 employees.

“At the end of the class or project, the students will submit to the company an entry strategy document that will assess the market, assess the risk, and recommend the proper entry (the business) should take,” Doresca says. The teams of students will be put together this spring. Doresca has been spending the past several months traveling the state and working with the Iowa Association of Business and Industry to find small businesses that want to go global and take part in the initiative.

“The response that we’ve been getting is just overwhelming,” Doresca said. “The small and mid-sized companies that I’ve been visiting this summer and fall are all very excited about this.” Although he hopes to expand the program in the future, only a few small businesses will be involved in the venture early next year.

“Our goal is to identify between 5 to 10 businesses to experiment with this in the spring,” Doresca said. According to a U.S. Department of Commerce report, in 2012, more than 3,300 businesses in Iowa exported their products and services, and more than 2,700 of them were small businesses, or those classified as having 50 employees or fewer.