In response to the sequestration cuts expected to continue in the coming years, the Virginia Economic Development Partnership (VEDP) released a guide to help Virginia’s defense companies reduce their reliance on federal government spending and grow their sales in foreign markets.

The Export Opportunities for Virginia’s Defense Industry guide is intended to promote defense industry exports in order to create jobs and increase the state’s tax base during a time of significant federal government cutbacks.

“We have a timely opportunity to help these companies grow sales through exports and keep their high-paying jobs in the Commonwealth,” said Paul Grossman, VEDP’s vice president of international trade.

Defense contracting in Virginia represents almost 10 percent of the economy, according to the guide. In a worst case scenario situation, Virginia could lose 82,000 direct jobs at federal agencies and contractors, and an additional 82,000 indirect jobs supported by business and personal spending shifts. The cuts will primarily affect Northern Virginia, which could absorb more than 60 percent of these losses, but also Hampton Roads would receive 20 percent, and Richmond 12 percent of the losses.

Yet foreign military sales through the U.S. Government doubled from FY2011 to FY2012, the guide noted. Plus, by October 2012 the U.S. Department of State had 73,000 license requests during that calendar year, which is 2,000 more than the previous year.

The guide suggests Virginia defense contractors follow a number of steps to successfully export, including:

  • Assessing export readiness
  • Understanding export regulations
  • Market entry via foreign military sales and direct commercial sales
  • Selecting international markets
  • Defense trade financing
  • Commercializing defense technologies

The VEDP suggests that exporting isn’t just a supplementary fix to ongoing budget cuts, but a way survive what could be a very long drought in defense spending.

“The potentially long term effects of sequestration on U.S. defense spending, however, requires defense contractors to explore exporting not as a quick fix to a short slump, but as a path to long term survival,” the guide said.

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Chandler Harris is a freelance business and technology writer located in Silicon Valley. He has written for numerous publications including Entrepreneur, InformationWeek, San Jose Magazine, Government Technology, Public CIO,, U.S. Banker, Digital Communities Magazine, Converge Magazine, Surfer's Journal, Adventure Sports Magazine,, and the San Jose Business Journal. Chandler is also engaged in helping companies further their content marketing needs through content strategy, optimization and creation, as well as blogging and social media platforms. When he's not writing, Chandler enjoys his beach haunt of Santa Cruz where he rides roller coasters with his son, surfs and bikes across mountain ranges.