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December 20
Exports on the Ground

U.S. exports hit a
record high in October, helping the growth of the U.S. economy and driving down the trade deficit.  This has been a recurrent story over the last several years.  Export growth has played a large part in the nation’s recovery, accounting for 37 percent of U.S economic output growth between 2009 and 2012.  County economies were part of this trend, as they are the fundamental blocks of regional economies, states and the nation.  Counties have actively contributed to the success of U.S. exports by developing initiatives designed to help local businesses increase their exports to international markets and create jobs in their local economies.

All county economies export, but their export profiles differ reflecting the strengths of each county economy.  Recent data released by the Brookings Institution offers insight into the export profiles of counties.  While the bulk of 2012 U.S. exports  — 48 percent  — were produced in large county economies, exports mattered more for small county economies, being responsible for almost 20 percent of the economic output in these county economies.  Businesses located in medium-sized counties produced 42 percent of the manufacturing exports, while 62 percent of service exports came from large county economies.

Counties have been proactive in helping their businesses export, grow and create jobs in their communities.  For example, Franklin County, Ohio has an EcoPartnership with Hefei, China designed to foster the development of solutions to environmental and energy challenges.  The partners will develop this exchange together with universities and the private sector in their communities.  In 2009, Riverside County, Calif. created the Riverside County Office of Foreign Trade, part of the county’s economic development agency.  The office assists local businesses in their export and import activities with the objective of creating new jobs and investment within the county.  The county office has been very active in reaching out to foreign trade partners; by 2013, the county had reached agreements with several countries, including Japan, Canada, Croatia and Australia.  The county is working on a bilateral trade agreement with several African nations including Kenya

The NACo International Economic Development Task Force facilitates the dialogue on international economic development initiatives among counties and with other stakeholders including states, the private sector and the federal government.  Counties are an important partner in the U.S. efforts to grow exports and help local businesses create jobs at home.​


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