October 26, 2007

Christie Miller
(804) 545-5805
Ready, AIM, Export! Spice Rack Chocolates of Fredericksburg
-State export activation program accepts five Virginia companies into September 2007 class-

RICHMOND - The Virginia Economic Development Partnership (VEDP) Division of International Trade announced today that Spice Rack Chocolates of Fredericksburg was accepted into the September 2007 class of the Accessing International Markets (AIM) program. The year-long export development program helps Virginia companies pursue new business opportunities overseas. The September 2007 class will target countries in the America’s, Europe and Asia.

Spice Rack Chocolates creates gourmet artisan chocolates at its production facility in Spotsylvania County, Virginia. Each of the company’s chocolates is hand-painted and blended with herbs, spices and oils to create unique taste combinations such as lemon–basil or mango–black pepper. Currently, these award-winning chocolates can be found in various stores and restaurants in downtown Fredericksburg and throughout Virginia.

“International sales offer significant opportunities for our company,” said Mary Shchellhammer, CEO. “We are eager to explore exporting as a growth strategy and AIM will help us to do just that. In addition to valuable capital funding, research and expert counseling, AIM’s export training will give us the confidence to explore exports leads on our own in the future.”

AIM jump-starts exports by encouraging a proactive, systematic approach to exporting in order to minimize risks and maximize returns. Participants learn the basics of export while they simultaneously explore sales in a new market overseas. Companies do not need prior export experience, but must agree to visit their target export market prior to graduation, and must attend quarterly seminars covering the basic steps of exporting.

“To support their efforts, AIM connects participants to the tools and resources needed for successful export sales” said Elizabeth Morgan-Brown, AIM Program Manager. “The VEDP looks forward to supporting Spice Rack Chocolates as they develop and implement their international business strategy.”

Participants have access to $5,000 that will be refunded to offset approved export related expenses. They also receive pro-bono counseling from six private-sector export specialists including an attorney, a Web designer, a banker, a translator, a freight forwarder and a U.S. export compliance specialist.

AIM draws upon public and private sector resources to help participants develop and implement a custom Market Access Plan (MAP) for their target market that incorporates the ten basic steps of export. The AIM “MAP” approach can be replicated to target new markets in the future. Participants are also encouraged to initiate projects to support their overall exports such as conducting a compliance audit, translating marketing materials, updating Web sites or purchasing export software.

Based on a competitive quarterly application process, 20 companies will be accepted into the AIM program each year. To learn more about the AIM program or to access an application, go to

The Virginia Economic Development Partnership, a marketing organization, was created by the Virginia General Assembly in 1995 to encourage, stimulate, and support the development and expansion of the economy of the Commonwealth. The Partnership is a state authority, which is governed by a 21-member Board of Directors appointed by the Governor and the Virginia General Assembly. To accomplish its objectives of promoting economic expansion within the Commonwealth, the Partnership focuses its efforts on business recruitment, expansion and international trade. VEDP has offices in Virginia, Belgium, Hong Kong, Mexico, Brazil, Korea and Japan.


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