Moderated by Rick Badie
Georgia businesses are successfully exporting goods and services to the world, so much so they accounted for a state record in the first half of this year when compared to the same period in 2012. Merchandise exports increased 4 percent, from $17.8 billion to $18.5 billion. Today’s guest writers note the economic importance of the respectable gain.
Exporting is good for Georgia businesses
By Don Nay
When I left Atlanta at the end of 1990 to serve in Europe, Africa, Asia and Washington with the U.S. Commercial Service, the Braves had the worst record in baseball. Times have changed. Now, Georgia can boast about more than the Braves.
In addition to exporting our baseball prowess, the state also has come a long way in exporting our goods and services to the world. New data from the U.S. Department of Commerce shows that Georgia hit a record for exporting in the first half of 2013. Merchandise exports increased 4 percent in the first half of 2013 compared to the same period of 2012, growing from $17.8 billion to a record high $18.5 billion.
Merchandise export sales in the first half of 2013 outpaced 2012 figures in many top destinations, including the United Arab Emirates, the United Kingdom and Mexico. Sales cut across many sectors: transportation equipment, machinery, chemicals, paper and food. Three sectors exported more than $1 billion of products in the first six months of 2013: aerospace products and parts ($3.1 billion); pulp, paper and paperboard mill products ($1.6 billion), and motor vehicles ($1 billion).
Let’s look at the increase from the eyes of a local exporter. Thrush Aircraft, a small business based in Albany, exports aerial-application aircraft used in agriculture, forestry and firefighting operations. Founded in 2003, the company employs 185 people. After learning about the Export-Import Bank of the United States from a colleague, Thrush took advantage of the bank’s services in 2010 to export an aircraft to Kenya.
Since then, Thrush’s production has doubled from 30 to 60 aircraft, and the company has added 60 new jobs. Today, there are more than 2,200 Thrush aircraft operating in some 80 countries around the world. More than 60 percent of the company’s sales are international.
“Without successful exporting, revenue growth would be severely restricted,” said Thrush CFO Paul Joiner. “Exporting is not just an adjunct to our domestic sales; it is a critical part of our overall sales strategy. Exporting certainly presents unique challenges, but the rewards are fully worth it.”
During the past year, we’ve seen an uptick in the number of companies that realize when domestic sales are flat, global opportunities are a great way to thrive as a U.S. business.
That is why U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker visited Atlanta last Friday to talk with American businesses about what works for them and how we can replicate their success. It is part of her nationwide listening tour to hear about business leaders’ priorities, concerns and ideas on how the public and private sectors can work together to strengthen the economy and create jobs.
The latest export numbers should encourage even more Georgia companies to throw their hat into the export arena. When they do, we will be here to assist.
Don Nay is director of the Atlanta U.S. Export Assistance Center.
Exports robust in Georgia
By Kathe Falls
Trade in Georgia is on the rise as the U.S. economy rebounds.
In 2012, Georgia experienced a record year for both exports and imports. With more than $35.9 billion in goods exported to 233 countries and territories, our state ranked 12th in the nation for exports. Georgia led the U.S. in exports of poultry, chemical wood pulp, cotton, Kraft paper and paperboard, carpet, kaolin and peanuts. We also imported more than $72.4 billion in goods and services.
Why is trade so robust?
It certainly helps that companies can get their products and services to market quickly. Our logistics system includes the world’s busiest and most efficient passenger airport, the fourth-largest and fastest-growing deep-water port in the U.S., and an extensive surface transportation network. In addition, companies are increasingly engaging in trade. Federal grants have enabled the state’s International Trade Division to ramp up the level of free and low-cost services it offers Georgia taxpayers.
In addition, more and more Georgia businesses are discovering the benefits of exporting products and services around the world. Companies that export are 20 percent more likely to grow faster and are 9 percent less likely to go out of business. That’s because exports help increase sales, which, in turn, lower production costs and increase profits.
Exporting to new markets expands product life cycle and brings global market intelligence to a business. In today’s market, businesses are looking for a stable environment and job security. International trade can help diversify a business and reduce risks.
Exports also contribute to the community and state economy. According to the U.S. Department of Commerce, they create twice as many jobs as domestic trade. For every job created in making a product, another job is created to get that product to market. Additionally, employees of exporting firms generally make 13 to 18 percent higher wages than those of firms that don’t export.
The mission of the Georgia Department of Economic Development is to create jobs in Georgia. Our international trade division does that by helping small and medium-sized companies export products. Companies we assist include, but are not limited to, agricultural companies, manufacturers, and assembly, research and development, distribution and headquarters operations. We can help Georgia companies research markets, find buyers, participate in trade shows and access customized services, all at no or reduced cost.
Last year, our trade team helped 1,308 companies close more than 400 deals, a 33-percent increase over the previous year, thanks in part to a generous State Trade and Export Promotion (STEP) grant from the U.S. Small Business Administration.
If you’re a small business owner in Georgia, there’s no better time than now to take advantage of your taxpayer dollars at work. Find out how international trade can take your company to the next level.
Kathe Falls is division director of international trade for the Georgia Department of Economic Development.