ALBUQUERQUE, New Mexico
Unemployment: 6.8 percent
Closest Port: Albuquerque International Sunport
Albuquerque has been aggressive about getting its export numbers up—New Mexico’s largest city has been part of making the state the national leader in export-related job growth—focusing attention on growing its trade relationships with Latin America whether through a trade mission to Brazil or creation of the New Mexico Trade and Higher Education Center of Mexico City, which will work with local companies interested in finding customers, partners and/or distributors throughout Mexico.
Unemployment: 7.1 percent
Closest Port: Port of Brownsville
Home to one of the country’s top performing Foreign Trade Zones—FTZ No. 62 ranked tops in 2013 for exports to foreign countries—Brownsville is a member of the South Texas International Economic Development which pools the talents and capital of several cities to promote foreign investment, global trade while assessing infrastructure assets and promoting the region to the rest of the world. STIED was created by San Antonio Councilwoman Elisa Chan and Brownsville Mayor Tony Martinez.
Unemployment: 4.7 percent
Closest Port: Casper/Natrona County International Airport
Though local exports have yet to crack the $1 billion mark, Casper’s foreign trade growth is impressive nonetheless, expanding by nearly 13 percent over the past 10 years—fifth best in the nation. The reasons for that growth are a combination of low municipal sales tax, non-existent corporate income tax and utilization of programs such as the State Trade and Export Promotion program as well as trade assistance seminars put on by the Wyoming Business Council.
CHARLOTTE, North Carolina
Unemployment: 5.9 percent
Closest Port: Charlotte Douglas International Airport
Through Charlotte’s Export Assistance Center’s Gold Key Service, small business owners are introduced to potential export markets by oversea specialists who, based on the profile of the client’s typical buyer, pre-qualify agents and distributors and set up meetings for the company. By the time the local owners get on the plane in Charlotte, they already know who they are meeting with and, in some cases, have already begun to correspond. Once there, they are provided with an interpreter for meetings.
Unemployment: 4.3 percent
Closest Port: Denver International Airport
The Mile High City certainly gets it when it comes to getting local businesses overseas. Through the Mayor’s Office of Economic Development and International Trade (MOED/IT), Denver is not only promoted to foreign companies but assists with financing, incentives and regulatory assistance to get Denver companies in foreign countries. MOED/IT is part of the Colorado/Denver Representative Office in London; Colorado maintains similar officers in Mexico, Japan, Germany and Brazil.
EL PASO, Texas
Unemployment: 5.3 percent
Closest Port: El Paso International Airport
Keeping with its unique status as a border city, El Paso’s most effective program may be one provided by its neighbor. Mexico’s Maquiladora Program allows local companies to assemble, process or manufacture goods for exportation, duty- and tariff-free, in Mexican factories. Many workers in those factories are El Paso residents and many goods they manufacture will end up being sold in Mexico, which is the destination for about 80 percent of El Paso-exported goods.
Unemployment: 6.5 percent
Closest Port: Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport
Flagstaff’s consistent growth, nearly 10 percent in exports over the past 10 years, owes much to a wide range of programs, such as the Infrastructure Assistance Incentive Fund available for up to $100,000 per economic development project. The Arizona District Export Council offers Export University in Flagstaff to educate small businesses interested in expanding their sales; and trade missions, many to Latin America, to promote companies and offer networking opportunities.
GREENVILLE, South Carolina
Unemployment: 6.1 percent
Closest Port: Port of Charleston
Upstate SC Alliance, a Greenville-based economic development organization, announced this year that it would also now focus on helping local companies expand overseas. Among its ambitious plan is to cut export-related freight costs, to improve the profile of the regions engineering sector internationally, creation of a World Affairs Council for global education, advocacy and cultural awareness as well as plans to release a study on foreign direct investment in the area.
SAN ANTONIO, Texas
Unemployment: 3.8 percent
Closest Port: Port of Corpus Christi
San Antonio’s central location, low taxes and close proximity to Latin America give it advantages that it, well, does everything to take advantage of. Consider that two such programs have been around for several decades: the Export Leaders Program that educates companies on how to incorporate foreign market entry strategies or its Free Trade Alliance, which not only provides resources to help businesses develop new international business opportunities but advocates for favorable policies that affect the regional economy.
Unemployment: 5.9 percent
Closest Port: Pittsburgh International Airport
Youngstown was at the forefront of the development of the Ohio-Pennsylvania Stateline Export Initiative, an assistance, promotion and education program that brings together 10 counties and two states to stimulate global trade in the region. The benefits range from providing a one-stop shop for potential foreign investors, distributors and partners looking to do business with local businesses to arranging a meeting between local business leaders with Cuban officials in anticipation of new opportunities once relations are officially normalized.
top cities for global trade