The President’s Pen is a weekly blog written by Jonathan Smith, New Vision’s President and CEO about local economic development projects and initiatives. It also covers economic trends, workforce issues, business climate policies, and manufacturing news.
Over the past year export promotion activities have gotten a big boost from the public sector. To revitalize our down economy, both Washington state and the feds have put sizeable investments into helping businesses export products and services. As these business assistance programs take root new evidence suggests that exporting makes a difference.
In a recent survey of manufacturers in our state, Impact Washington found that companies involved in international trade were definitely faring better than their counterparts. These results jibe with a study published by the Institute for International Economics that found US companies that export not only grow faster but are less likely to go out of business than non-exporting companies.
Research also shows that international companies pay better wages. Jobs supported by the export of goods and services pay 15 percent more than the average non-export-related job. For export-supported manufacturing jobs, the average wage increase is even higher – 18 percent.
Opportunities for businesses to grow market share seem most promising within international markets. Ninety-five percent of the world's consumers now live outside the United States. The fastest growing markets are now abroad in countries like China, India and Brazil. Even though international opportunities abound, relatively few domestic companies have international customers. The reasons why businesses do not export vary, but the most common issue is a sense among businesses that there is not a market for their products outside the United States. This may be accurate for some companies, but export promotion experts suggest most companies simply lack the ability to research and identify foreign market opportunities.
Current export development initiatives are trying to help companies pursue international business. Washington state is offering dozens of classes on exporting this year. These classes orient businesses to exporting and are usually a gateway to more detailed support services for companies that want to actively pursue international business. The state also just unveiled a new $1.6 million Export Washington
initiative designed to increase the number of small businesses that export, as well as to increase the value of goods and services currently being exported by SBCs. The Export Voucher program is a key element of Export Washington. This program will reimburse eligible businesses up to $5,000 for pre-approved expenses, such as training, marketing campaigns, trade show and mission expenses, business travel expenses, etc. to increase export sales. SBCs are required to provide a minimum 25% cash match, or up to $1,250 for a full $5,000 Voucher.