DULUTH, Minn. (May 17, 2013) — DEED Commissioner Katie Clark Sieben joined Duluth Mayor Don Ness and other local officials today to emphasize the importance of exports in Minnesota, particularly in Duluth, where many of the state’s exports are shipped through the Port of Duluth-Superior to international markets.
The commissioner said agricultural, mining and manufactured exports are a crucial part of the state economy, with manufacturing exports alone accounting for more than 115,000 jobs in Minnesota.
“Minnesota exports set a record for the second consecutive year, reaching $20.6 billion in 2012,” Commissioner Sieben said. “As a gateway for domestic and international trade, the Port of Duluth-Superior greatly contributes to our exports around the world, but also allows for an opportunity for outside investment to come into the state.”
Along with Mayor Ness, other participants who joined Commissioner Sieben at the event were Adolph Ojard, executive director of the Duluth Seaway Port Authority; Dale Klapmeier, CEO and co-founder of Cirrus Aircraft; and representatives from three other local companies that are expanding with the help of exports: H&H Exports, Ikonics and Intectural, Epicurean/LollDesigns.
Machinery is the state’s biggest export product, with sales climbing 2.2 percent last year to $4 billion. Other major exports are optic, medical instruments ($3.1 billion), electrical machinery ($2.5 billion), vehicles ($1.9 billion) and plastic ($1 billion).
Many of those products are shipped to Canada, which is by far the state’s largest customer, accounting for $6 billion in sales, or 29 percent of total state exports last year. Other major customers are China ($2.5 billion), Mexico ($1.3 billion), Japan ($1.2 billion) and Germany ($728 million).
To keep Minnesota exports growing and the state competitive around the world, Sieben said it’s important for the Legislature to approve Gov. Mark Dayton’s Minnesota Global Competitiveness Initiative. The measure is a $1.5 million package designed to increase exports and foreign direct investment in the state.
The initiative, which would be led by DEED’s Minnesota Trade Office, includes $540,000 to open three new offices in key foreign markets yet to be determined. The state currently has only one overseas trade office located in Shanghai, China.
Another piece of the governor’s initiative is $600,000 for the Minnesota STEP program, which makes grants available to small businesses that want to begin exporting or expand exports to other markets. Under the program, small businesses can apply for up to $7,500 in reimbursement for approved export development activities.
Trade missions also are a part of the state’s strategy to encourage export growth and more foreign direct investment, with the governor scheduled to lead a trade mission to Germany, Sweden and Norway on June 12-21.
DEED is the state’s principal economic development agency, promoting business recruitment, expansion and retention, workforce development, international trade and community development. For more details about the agency and our services, visit us at www.PositivelyMinnesota.com. Follow us on Twitter at www.twitter.com/PositivelyMN.