The U.S. Department of Commerce has released new data showing the impact of exporting on our national economy, with Arkansas as one of only 11 states to achieve double-digit export growth last year from 2011. In reality, Arkansas did much more than double its exports — the state experienced a 36 percent increase in overall export growth, and increased exports to France by 117 percent, making it one of the best-performing states.
Not only is this a remarkable moment in time for the state of Arkansas, but for the job-creating businesses and the workers who made it possible.
This is an Opinion
This latest export data proves that significant and serious business opportunities exist beyond our borders; in fact, 95 percent of the world’s consumers live outside of the United States. For many Arkansas companies, international marketing has become a critical element to business sustainability and growth. In 2012 alone, nearly $7.6 billion in merchandise was exported from Arkansas, equating to the preservation and creation of thousands of jobs in industries including transportation, chemical production and manufacturing.
Arkansas is part of a positive trend of states fueling our nation’s economic growth and reinforcing America’s position as a magnet for quality jobs: According to the latest data, U.S. jobs supported by exports increased to 9.8 million in 2012.
Exporting success stories are happening across the state. Take Fayetteville-based BlueInGreen, whose patented gas dissolution technology allows engineers to improve reservoir water quality. Early last year, BlueInGreen saw an opportunity to take its product global, and today, the company has a representative in Brazil to support marketing its company. The company is pursuing a pilot project in the Sao Paolo water district to demonstrate the efficacy of its products.
Similarly, Little Rock’s Conway Machine, a woman-owned manufacturer of aftermarket parts for the folding carton industry, has taken advantage of opportunities to expand its business beyond our borders and is already experiencing early benefits of doing so.
Stories like these tell us that exports are making a difference in Arkansas’ economic recovery.
The once-familiar refrain that America “imports everything and exports nothing” has now given way to these success stories and many more. And the trend is one that will continue due to the entrepreneurial spirit of America’s businesses and workers. But it’s clear that there are far more opportunities than what Arkansas businesses have experienced thus far.
It all starts with businesses and government working together to take advantage of a unique window of opportunity. Since 2010, the International Trade Administration has helped more than 16,000 U.S companies achieve a verified export sale for a total of $164 billion in exports supported. This level of support is only expected to grow during the coming years, as President Obama referenced in his most recent State of the Union, and there are more resources available to local businesses than ever to explore the potential of exports. For example, the Arkansas Export Assistance Center is providing local businesses with trade counseling, market intelligence, business matchmaking and commercial diplomacy to connect with lucrative business opportunities.
Rapidly emerging markets across the globe are creating unprecedented demand for the kind of state-of-the-art products being developed here in Arkansas. More than 1,600 Arkansas businesses are already seeing that first hand.
As we applaud this latest achievement of Arkansas’ economic recovery, we must also commit to ensuring that its momentum continues. Continuing the creation of opportunities and support for U.S. companies to export their goods and services makes good economic sense — and American workers deserve nothing less.
Francisco J. Sánchez is the undersecretary of commerce for international trade. He leads the International Trade Administration, a federal agency with commercial offices across the United States and the globe that promotes U.S. businesses and global competitiveness.