Posts Tagged ‘MEI’

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One Shining BEAM of Export Cooperation

February 14, 2014

Kentucky Mayors Greg Fischer of Louisville and Jim Gray of Lexington launched the Bluegrass Economic Advancement Movement (BEAM) in 2011. This initiative brings together the 22 counties that include and surround these cities through a strategic partnership, implementing a regional economic development approach for the state’s two largest metropolitan areas.

In 2012, the Mayors followed BEAM with the “Build it Locally/Sell it Globally” initiative to increase export successes by 50 percent in five years. This focus on exporting is a key aspect of BEAM’s broader goal to promote growth among the region’s businesses.

BEAM is unique among regional export promotion programs in that it is a collaborative effort between two leaders. The mayors’ approach exemplifies their belief that sharing economic growth rather than competing for it, is the best way to build the future for the region.

Research shows that exporting firms – whether in manufacturing or services – grow faster and can afford to pay their workers better than non-exporting firms. By promoting exports, Mayors Fischer and Gray are taking a key step to support better jobs and stronger growth in the region.

Kentucky is already a leader among states in exporting. It is one of 16 states to have broken its own merchandise export record in 2013, having exported more than $25 billion in goods during the year.

Mayors Fischer and Gray were kind enough to answer a few questions about the initiative:

ITA: What role do exports play in the economies of Louisville and Lexington, and in Kentucky overall?

Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer

Louisville, Ky. Mayor Greg Fischer

Mayor Fischer: Exports play a critical role in our regional and state economy. Exports throughout our state have surged to all-time highs. We have large companies that are robust exporters such as Ford, Lexmark, and Yum! Brands that sell into markets throughout the world.

However, 90 percent of Kentucky’s exporters are small to mid-sized firms. In total, the BEAM region produced $14.8 billion in exports in 2012, which is a five percent increase from 2011. Our regional exports perform strongly as a percentage of Gross Metropolitan Product (GMP), accounting for 16 percent of GMP in 2012.

We’re ahead of the national average, as U.S. exports in 2012 accounted for 13 percent of national Gross Domestic Product. We’re very pleased with our progress and expect more great results ahead.

ITA: One goal of the Bluegrass Economic Advancement Movement is to increase export successes by 50 percent in five years, measured by the number of companies that expand to new foreign markets or begin selling out of the U.S for the first time. What effects will that kind of expansion have in your cities?

Mayor Gray: Kentucky is primarily made up of small businesses. Many of these companies could be expanding their sales internationally. Two-thirds of Kentucky’s companies have fewer than 20 employees, many of which could be exporting but aren’t or could be exporting to more markets.

Lexington Mayor Jim Gray

Lexington, Ky. Mayor Jim Gray

Our “Build it Locally/Sell it Globally” export initiative focuses primarily on small business export expansion. Through this initiative a team has worked with trade partners to conduct effective outreach to a target list of smaller companies, selected for exportability, headquartered location in Kentucky and size. We want these small businesses to know about the locally available trade resources to assist their export needs.

Our team has been able to connect companies to trade education resources, market research opportunities, and information about trade missions and trade shows.

Recently, we announced a $200,000 award from the JPMorgan Chase Foundation to create the BEAM-Kentucky Export Promotion program. This one-of-a-kind initiative supports small businesses by providing them financial support to access export and business development resources to expand international sales. You can read more about this work here: http://bit.ly/KyBEAM

ITA: Export expansion has been a major priority under the National Export Initiative. How do initiatives like BEAM translate into national export expansion and improvement in the overall economy?

Mayor Fischer: The National Export Initiative was an inspiration to stakeholders around the country. It set a big goal and inspired many of us to step up our game.

New research has revealed compelling evidence about exports at the metro level. We all know that metro governments are positioned in the new economy to play a pivotal role in fostering innovation, economic development and driving sustainable practices. Metro areas dominate exports at the state level, generating more than 90 percent of exports in 11 states. The BEAM region counts for 53% of the state’s total exports. Here in Kentucky, our Governor organized early following the launch of the NEI to form the Kentucky Export Initiative (KEI). The KEI has brought together the state’s leading trade organizations to streamline support for companies  throughout the state. Once the Metropolitan Export Initiative (MEI) was formed, Mayor Gray and I worked to get added to the cohort of cities working with the Brookings Institution. The MEI afforded us new data tools and a guide on how to develop an export plan suited to our regional goals and pursuits.

All of these initiatives have helped our region and state come together to effectively address problems that have affected businesses. As organizations have worked together to make their resources maximally effective, businesses have received streamlined and accessible support.

ITA: How are other officials throughout the state helping? State officials, local leaders, etc?

Mayor Gray: By partnering with our local U.S. Commercial Service offices in Louisville and Lexington, the World Trade Center Kentucky, our state and regional chambers, along with the Kentucky Cabinet for Economic Development and the Kentucky Small Business Development Centers, we have received great support from officials and many other organizations throughout Kentucky. Staff for the “Build it Locally/Sell it Globally” initiative have worked with trade partners to host export educational seminars for chamber and economic development professionals. Outreach has been conducted to businesses around the BEAM region, an effort supported by partners at the local, state and federal levels. This is a collaborative effort and we feel the importance of working with all involved every day.

ITA: What do you say to Kentucky business leaders who aren’t currently exporting?

Mayor Fischer: I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: “If you’re a small business that isn’t exporting but your competitors are, they are going to eat your lunch.” We operate in a global economy. Exporting is the expectation.

In our region, while we’re known for specializations in bourbon and equine, we also export mattresses, security locks, dental equipment, disco balls and ceiling fans; and more than a few cars and home appliances.

About 95 percent of the world’s consumers live outside the U.S. and more than 80 percent of growth is happening outside Europe or North America. If your company wants to be in business ten, twenty years from now, you’re best positioned by having sales in foreign markets. The world is waiting for you.

ITA: Mayors around the country are working hard to support local and regional economies. What’s your advice to them?

Mayor Gray: Invest in small business growth opportunities. Focus on growing what you have in your region and expanding opportunities through intentional and strategic, cross functionally aligned initiatives. Look at models for success. Learn from Mayors and other elected officials who are doing things that work around the country. Spend time with national thought leaders. And set big but realistic goals that are measurable and inclusive.

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Cities like Ann Arbor Can Change the World

September 11, 2013

Michael Masserman is the Executive Director for Export Policy, Promotion & Strategy at the International Trade Administration and is also a proud alumnus of the University of Michigan – #goblue.

There’s excitement in the air on campuses in towns like Huntsville, Ala.; Boulder, Colo.; Bloomington, Ind.; and Ann Arbor, Mich., because college football season has kicked off.

But those cities have more in common than just enthusiasm for college football; they’re all among the metropolitan areas that surpassed the $1 billion mark in goods exports last year.

That’s right, $1 billion.

Ann Arbor, a city that has generated more than $1 billion in annual exports for a number of years and home to the University of Michigan, is harnessing its innovative spirit to expand globally in sectors from transportation equipment to electronics products.

It’s home to companies like Mechanical Simulation Corporation, which produces software to simulate the dynamic response of vehicles to inputs from the driver and environmental conditions. The company is the result of early research at the University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute. They’re now selling their products to manufacturers and suppliers from Sao Paulo to Seoul.

Ann Arbor has been able to attract investment from overseas firms like Toyota and Hyundai, which now have their U.S. research and development facilities in the region. The area is also home to Liebherr-Aerospace, a German company that, among other things, re-builds engines for Embraer, a Brazilian aerospace company.

With Ann Arbor linking business between Munich and Rio de Janeiro, it is building a foundation for sustainable economic growth here and abroad. These city-to-city connections are how global commerce is now done. Instead of trading spices and coffee, the 21st century “silk road” is about cross-border data flows, global supply chains, and accessing products and services via smartphones, where you can now buy your coffee and spices from anywhere in the world at the click of a button.

The universities in these communities played a huge role in these export numbers even though services exports like education aren’t included in this number. Foreign students studying in the United States accounted for nearly $23 billion in exports nationwide in 2012.

Universities like Michigan, which has more than 6,300 international students, are forging the next generation of globally minded U.S. business owners. They also expose foreign students to American culture and business practices. Some of these students could return to their home country and become the next big investors in the United States. Understanding the relationship between exports and investment in the United States is the holistic approach we need for our cities – and our nation – to succeed.

Every U.S. city has the opportunity to engage in the global marketplace, and we’re proud to partner with the Brookings Institution on the Metropolitan Export Initiative to support globally minded cities. Local leaders just have to be deliberate and strategic about prospects, seize the moment at hand, and get in the game. 

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Building Exports in the Bluegrass State

February 19, 2013

This post contains external links. Please review our external linking policy.

Francisco Sánchez serves as the Under Secretary of Commerce for International Trade. 

“We should remember that today’s world presents not just dangers, not just threats — it presents opportunity.” This statement from President Obama’s State of the Union speech confirms the belief that free trade and open markets are a benefit in our globalized world.

In Louisville, Ky., this belief is nothing new, as the town has been growing its economy by focusing on exporting to foreign markets.

That is why I joined Mayor Greg Fischer in Louisville today to sign a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between the International Trade Administration (ITA) and the City of Louisville in a team effort to improve local exports. Congressman John Yarmuth (KY-3) also joined us to celebrate this exciting new partnership and highlight what this means for the community.

Our new MOU extends the success we have seen through the Bluegrass Economic Advancement Movement (BEAM), a joint venture between the mayors of Louisville and Lexington, designed to support the growth of high-quality jobs in advanced manufacturing throughout a 22-county region.

BEAM is a particularly exceptional achievement because it is the realization of the National Export Initiative (NEI) localized through the Brookings Institute’s Metropolitan Export Initiative (MEI). It represents a way in which cities and towns can engage in international trade to reap the benefits of increased exports.

Together, these initiatives are all working in concert to increase U.S. exports.

And there is no better place to talk exports than Kentucky.

Kentucky depends heavily on manufacturing, such as civilian aircraft, engines, and parts. In fact, 96 percent of Kentucky’s $19.3 billion in exports in 2010 came from manufacturing.  These numbers continued to grow through 2012 – and the growth rate ranks Kentucky 11th among other states in 2012 – which is extremely impressive.

Kentucky is also a great example of how the NEI and our efforts here at the International Trade Administration are helping the U.S. compete in manufacturing as we focus on bringing manufacturing back to the States and selling our products abroad.

This was my first time in Louisville, but after seeing the enthusiasm for exporting from smaller businesses like Universal Woods to larger companies like UPS, I am already looking forward to coming back and supporting Kentucky’s exciting export growth.

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Putting International Trade at the Local Level

January 30, 2013

This post contains external links. Please review our external linking policy.

Elías González is an intern in the International Trade Administration Office of Public Affairs, and is a former West Point Cadet and graduate from the University of Pennsylvania.

Should local governments pay attention to international trade? American trade leaders think so and they’re helping city leaders take a bite out of the export pie.

International trade was a hot topic at the U.S. Conference of Mayors’ Winter Meeting in Washington, DC this month, and representatives from the International Trade Administration (ITA) used the opportunity to illustrate how U.S. competitiveness depends on local communities.

Francisco Sánchez, Under Secretary for International Trade, emphasized the importance of the president’s National Export Initiative (NEI).  He said that 95 percent of consumers live outside the U.S., and that the NEI is instrumental in helping American businesses access those foreign markets. He also lauded its success, citing that U.S. exports reached a record $2.1 trillion in 2011 and that data when available next month will likely show that 2012 was even higher.

In a separate task force meeting, Walter Bastian, Deputy Secretary for the Western Hemisphere here at ITA, reaffirmed the importance of international trade, pointing out that trade with Mexico alone produces an average of $1 million a minute for the U.S. economy.

Bastian emphasized the importance of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), a trade agreement among several Asian, Pacific, and North American countries, and how it will strengthen trade with Mexico. He said that it will help reduce the cost of doing business, potentially making that million-dollar-a-minute figure higher.

Sánchez and Bastian were quick to note that the economic benefits from trade are not felt only by the U.S. as a whole, but by local communities as well.

In a cooperative effort to help local communities enter the exporting business efficiently, ITA has partnered with the Brookings Institution on the Metropolitan Export Initiative (MEI). Several metropolitan areas in the U.S. are already participating, and the Under Secretary urged the mayors to utilize the tools the ITA provides. The MEI is one of many tools in place to remedy inefficiency. Inefficiency at the border—issues like long wait times for trucks—cost upwards of $6 billion per year.

Initiatives like the MEI help local communities gain greater control over their exports and create more efficient and beneficial trade partnerships.

Under Secretary Sánchez concluded his discussion at the conference by emphasizing that cities need to prioritize exports, reach new markets, and draw new investments. He reiterated what he and Bastian deemed crucial, that as cities succeed the country succeeds, and that ITA is here to help.

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