By Terri Hughes-Lazzell
Designated in 1990 as a National Resource Center by the U.S. Department of Education (Title VI, CIBER), the International Business Center (IBC) at the Eli Broad College of Business has impacted the business community on Michigan State University’s campus, in the local and regional communities, nationally, and globally for 25 years.
The IBC houses MSU’s Center for International Business Education and Research (MSU-CIBER), part of a program created by Congress to increase American firms’ international competitiveness. It now also serves as the headquarters for the Academy of International Business, and has a joint partnership agreement with the U.S. Department of Commerce to facilitate exporting in the region.
G. Tomas M. Hult, Professor and Byington Endowed Chair Director, International Business Center at the Broad College of Business.
Overseeing about 200 activities each year, all of these pieces work together to ensure that IBC continues to meet its mission to provide superior education, research, and assistance to businesses, public policy makers, academics, and students regarding international business and trade. Since its beginning, for example, the IBC has:
Assisted more than 1,900 companies in Michigan and 12,000-plus companies nationwide with international trade since 2006
Started the Michigan Export Growth Program to help small and medium Michigan companies in all counties
Logged 1.5 million active users of globalEDGE—an international business web resource (globalEDGE.msu.edu)
Employed about 30 students annually working with globalEDGE, pitching ideas to develop new programs, and helping Michigan companies
Trained faculty at community colleges in 44 states, 80 percent of whom now teach international business—making it the leading outreach program to community colleges in this area
One of the focal points for the IBC is working with companies that want to expand, but aren’t exactly sure how to go about it. IBC helps with knowledge and resources to expand internationally – finding customer segments and how to reach them.
“We help find the global markets for Michigan companies, help identify which customer segment they should target, and help the companies to get there (as part of the Michigan Export Growth Program), said Tomas Hult, director of the center, Byington Endowed Chair, and professor of marketing. “This involves lots of students who get practical training while at MSU.”
Helpful in this context is IBS’ globalEDGE that has become the leading online source for “international business resources” and a unique “gem” in the assortment of products and services that IBC provides. With 1.5 million active users, “there is someone using the site, globalEDGE.msu.edu, nearly every hour of every day in about 240 countries across the globe,” Hult said.
globalEDGE, like the Michigan Export Growth Program, heavily integrates students in its team effort. Students get practical training, research training, and a focus on communication skills. globalEDGE also draws on student innovation to pitch ideas to develop new programs.
Study abroad is also a key element of the center’s work. As many as 100 study abroad scholarships are granted each year through the money raised from programs. In fact, Hult himself came to the United States on a study abroad program from Sweden. He loves the unique opportunities to share with others, and has established, with his wife, the “Tomas and Laurie Hult Study Abroad Endowment” at MSU.
The opportunities that the IBC has brought have magnified that, Hult said. “The greater Lansing area is a uniquely competitive community that has done a good job using the MSU IBC umbrella to bring many organizations around one table to work together,” he added.
Every major community organization in trade, business, and focused on the region competitive is a partner with IBC.
“We’re a staple,” Hult said of IBC. “We received our first grant in 1990, a year after the program started, and we just received our funding renewal during this past academic year.”