COVINGTON – Covington-based SMP Corporation was selected as a first round winner of the annual Atlanta Metro Export Challenge, a grant program targeting companies with innovative export strategies.

Twenty-eight companies from metro Atlanta were selected as semi-finalists in the competition and will each receive a grant of up to $5,000 to apply toward expenses related to building export capacity and activities.

SMP Corporation is a distributor of films including, polyester film sheeting, window tinting film, and digital print film. SMP supplies products domestically as well as to customers in China, Japan, Germany and South Africa among others nations.

President Paul Kwak started the company nine years ago and employs eight full-time employees. He said that receiving the grant was “extremely encouraging” and that he feels great about the opportunities ahead.

“I’m going strengthen my marketing efforts within the U.S. and outside,” Kwak said.

His marketing plans include developing relations with businesses in over 14 countries, enhancing the company website for improved client access and establishing a presence at national trade shows to network with more potential domestic and international clients.

Nearly 100 companies, ranging in size from pre-revenue startups to small and established medium-sized businesses, applied for the 28 available grants in the challenge. Winners demonstrating export success during the second half of 2017 will be invited to the second round of competition at Pitch Day – a Shark Tank-style pitch session. Awards will be issued to the top three companies - $20,000 for first place, $10,000 for second and $5,000 for third.

The Atlanta MEC will distribute a total of $200,000 over the course of the competition. This competition is one of the key components of the Atlanta Metro Export Plan, an initiative launched to stimulate economic growth in the region and create quality jobs through exports.

Funding for this program was committed by a grant from JP Morgan Chase and Co. in the amount of $100,000, along with United Parcel Service in the amount of $25,000 and Partnership Gwinnett for $5,000.

“We congratulate the first round winners for their innovation and focus on global growth. UPS is honored to be a part of this collaborative effort to encourage metro Atlanta companies to explore and pursue export opportunities,” said Bill Seward, U.S. international president at UPS. “Being an integral part of the Atlanta Metro Export Challenge aligns with UPS’s commitment to expand our customers’ horizons and connect a global community through intelligent logistics networks.”

The MEP is the first phase of Atlanta’s participation in the Global Cities Initiative, a joint project of the Brookings Institution and JPMorgan Chase that aims to help leaders in U.S. metropolitan areas reorient their economies toward greater engagement in world markets.

A native of Kathmandu, Nepal, Rimal graduated from Troy University in 2016 with degrees in journalism and political science. She has since worked for the Rockdale/Newton Citizen newspapers primarily covering education.

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