Alabama state and business leaders are visiting two eastern European nations this week on a five-day mission to open new markets.
Alabama Commerce Secretary Greg Canfield and representatives of seven companies are visiting Romania and Bulgaria this week, with meetings scheduled in Bucharest and Sofia.
The Alabama Commerce Department says state-based companies exported $6.8 million in goods to Bulgaria in 2017, an increase of nearly 1,400 percent from the previous year, while exports to Romania totaled $2.2 million last year, up more than 170 percent.
The trade mission is a first for Alabama officials visiting these two countries. Commerce department officials said they offer several opportunities. Romania's burgeoning economy is one of the European Union's fastest growing, while Bulgaria's top imports are medical instruments, industry machinery and vehicles.
Among the companies on the mission are:
Weather radar and software company Baron Services of Huntsville.
Daphne's Irrigation Components International.
Knox Kershaw, a Montgomery-based maker of railway maintenance equipment.
Warrior's Mid-America Engine, which provides power generation equipment.
Okra Energy, a developer of small-scale liquified natural gas technologies with an office in Jackson.
Huntsville's R2C Support Services, which works with the U.S. Department of Defense and other clients.
Birmingham's Thompson Tractor, a major sales representative of Caterpillar heavy equipment for construction and other industries.
Also represented is the University of Alabama Center for Economic Development, the University of Alabama in Huntsville and the Alabama National Guard.
"This trade mission is about helping Alabama companies identify new markets for their goods and services, so they can create jobs and make new investments in their communities back home," Canfield said.