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Q-C man heads Institute for International Business center in Iowa City
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Q-C man heads Institute for International Business center in Iowa City

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A Bettendorf man is the new director of the Institute for International Business at the University of Iowa.

And he couldn't be happier.

Dimy Doresca, a native of Haiti who attended Augustana College in Rock Island, has embarked on a new job to help small markets expand their global market outreach.

“The goal is to use the resources of the University of Iowa to help Iowa businesses expand globally,” he said. “Many of these businesses don’t have the resources on their own to consider expanding internationally, so we can be their international development arm."

He said it provides consulting services for small businesses in Iowa that want to enter global markets. It also is part of the John Pappajohn Entrepreneurial Center.

Doresca first moved to the Quad-Cities to attend Scott Community College as an exchange student in 1994. He later graduated from Augustana in 2000. Then, he earned his master's in foreign service international relations from Georgetown University.

He worked in the business field for a time in international banking, finance and working with non-governmental organizations.

He eventually returned to Iowa in 2005 when he was hired by Stanley Consultants Inc. in Muscatine. He was part of the firm’s team that set up its first field operations in India. He then worked on projects throughout the Middle East in Qatar, Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates.

He began working at the University of Iowa as an adjunct instructor in 2012, teaching international business classes at the Tippie School of Business part-time MBA-PM program in Davenport and Des Moines. He plans to continue teaching in his new position.

He also is doing consulting work with Haiti’s Ministry of Economic Development and takes teams of Iowa business owners on trade missions to his home island every year.

Doresca, who was appointed in August, is spending the fall semester traveling the state and working with the Iowa Association of Business and Industry to find three or four small businesses that want to go global. In the spring, he’ll put together teams of undergraduate Tippie students to work as consultants, earning class credit while compiling research reports that give those clients the data and background they will need to make an informed decision.

“This will be an incredible experiential learning opportunity for our students to take what they learn in the classroom and apply it in a real-world setting,” he said. "It brings a group of students together to work on their project, do market assessments, risk analysis, how to enter new markets. Sometimes, there are cultural risks and financial risks. But the reaction has been great."

Doresca said the institute was established in the late 1990s with a focus on students studying abroad. When the previous director retired, Doresca said, the dean of the business school approached him about the job. He said he was interested, but only if it could include helping more companies go global.

And so, the institute expanded to become an outreach arm of the university to help small and medium-sized businesses throughout Iowa expand their markets overseas. At the same time, the Institute for International Business will continue to give undergraduates hands-on business experience.

Jay Christensen-Szalanski, professor in the University of Iowa's department of management organization, said this is good news for many small business owners.

"I think many small businesses incorrectly assume that since they are small, they cannot go global," he said. "But there are a number of resources to market their product internationally, many strategies to market their product. Often, information on those plans isn't well communicated with small business owners.

"They assume they don't have capital, marketing expertise or contacts or the time to accomplish those. That is what the institute can assist with. It is a small investment of their time, maybe less than an hour, and provide the business owners with new prospective of what they can do with their products."

Doresca said a U.S. Department of Commerce report in 2012 reported that 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 or fewer employees.

He said the Iowa companies most active in global trade were those that sold medical equipment and information technology and business services. But the market has room for more.

“I’ve heard from a lot of businesses that have the same story, that they want to get into international business and don’t know where to start, or they’re in it, but they’re facing a lot of risk and don’t how to mitigate it,” he said. “We have the resources to help.”

Resources include the federal Small Business Association and Export Assistance Center to the state of Iowa’s Department of Economic Development.

"His focus continues to be to incorporate global business, not only in small Iowa businesses, but from undergrads to graduate students," said Michel S. Pontarelli, director of the Quad-Cities MBA for Professionals and Managers program for the University of Iowa. "It will help students at all levels of what it means to be globally minded."

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