Tennessee goes after exports, opens foreign offices

Tennessee goes after exports, opens foreign offices

Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam and Economic and Community Development Commissioner Bill Hagerty have launched an international strategy focused on increasing the exports of Tennessee goods to key markets around the globe. Efforts will be led by ECD’s International Division with new Export Development Offices in Mexico, the United Kingdom, Germany serving the entire European Union, and China. The opening of these offices marks the first time since 1997 that the state of Tennessee has had overseas offices solely dedicated to advancing Tennessee exports.

During the last decade, Tennessee’s total export volume has more than tripled. More than 6,400 Tennessee businesses employing 80,000 workers sold nearly $30 billion worth of Tennessee products around the world in 2011 alone, ranking Tennessee the 14th largest exporting state in the U.S.

ECD’s export program TNTrade was announced in 2011, and two successful trade missions were led to Mexico with Tennessee automotive suppliers last July and another to China and South Korea with Tennessee medical device manufacturers and health care companies in April. TNTrade has subsequently received a Small Business Administration State Trade and Export Program grant which will support a slight change in how the program operates, and giving it the ability to provide global export assistance. The program will also be using this year to identify and educate small and medium companies interested in exporting with an overall goal of increasing exports by 10 percent over the next three years.

A variety of free services will be offered at the local and international offices including business intelligence, market analysis, sales and marketing planning, identification of distribution partners and service providers, and company matchmaking.

TNTrade will also be establishing a business training academy for participating companies. A select group of businesses will be given a grant to complete Belmont University’s Global Business Professional Series that includes monthly luncheons with international business experts across the state, and a new web portal will be established featuring export education resources and announcements.

In addition to export initiatives, the ECD International Division will proactively identify and recruit new foreign direct investment into the state. Four Investment Recruitment Offices have been established in Japan, Germany serving the entire European Union, Canada and the United Kingdom. Tennessee is home to 834 foreign-owned companies, investing $24 billion and employing almost 110,000 Tennesseans.

“When facing an uncertain global economy, it is imperative that Tennessee businesses take steps to access both untapped markets and those exhibiting an increase in purchasing power due to fluctuating currency rates,” Commissioner Hagerty said.

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