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Minimize Foreign Trade Risks with These 10 Tips

foreign

Minimize Foreign Trade Risks with These 10 Tips

Does your company follow a strategy to go global? International expansion brings endless opportunities. Statistics show that companies that export boost their productivity by 34% on average over the first year. They are also more likely to survive in the long term when compared to companies with a local focus. 

However, we must emphasize the fact that foreign trading comes with risks. Currency, credit, intellectual property, transport, logistics, ethics… you’ll be dealing with a lot throughout this journey. Being aware of these risks and taking steps to minimize them will ensure the success of your brand’s international trade management.

10 Tips on How to Minimize Foreign Trade Risks 

Make Sure Your Products Are Allowed for Distribution

This is the first thing you need to check: are you allowed to trade with your products in the respective country? For example, the EU has strict regulations that prevent many goods from China from being imported. Each country has its rules, which your business must respect. Otherwise, you would waste a lot of time and resources planning an impossible expansion project. 

You can get familiar with the rules by reading relevant laws and regulations or contacting the customs services.  

Focus on the Legal Aspects of Business Expansion

Each country has its own regulations regarding businesses from abroad. Legislators set the legal framework and conditions for FFcustomers, sales, and particularities regarding the industry. It’s important to be aware of all these details ahead of time. When designing your strategy and drafting the initial contracts, you should make sure you stay within the legal framework of the country where you expand the brand. In addition, you should be aware of potential legal disputes and their solutions. 

Most business owners hire lawyers in their respective countries. A lawyer from your own country can also make connections and give you the details you need.   

Get Shipping Insurance

Everything looks well on paper. You consider the costs of production, transport, marketing, sales, and everything else related to selling your goods abroad. But there’s a risk that business owners often forget: damage during shipping. Items may break or get lost during transport. Your shipment may become a subject of theft or even vandalism. Accidents and contamination happen during transport all the time. If you don’t get good insurance for your shipment, you risk losing a lot of money. 

Proper insurance is not cheap. You should talk to several agencies to get the best offer on international shipments. We recommend using the best finance apps to plan all costs, including insurance over a longer period of time. These apps will help you calculate a decent budget and determine a final price that won’t leave much space for losses. 

Consider All Currency-Related Things

When planning foreign trade financing, you’re guided by the official currency in your own country. You focus on evaluating the risks related to credit, but as most business owners, you might forget about one thing: currency conversions may initiate losses, too. 

The COVID-19 crisis hasn’t been kind in this aspect. In March 2020, emerging-market currencies faced losses of up to 30%. That’s something that nobody could have predicted. However, you can analyze the movement of relevant currencies and estimate potential losses. You might need to work with a financial expert to make these evaluations.  

Evaluate the Risk of Protectionism

Trade protectionism is a policy for protecting domestic industries from foreign invasion. If, for example, a particular country stimulates the domestic flour milling industry, it will impose import quotas, tariffs, and other handicaps on foreign traders. Governments do this because they don’t want foreign products to drop the market prices and get the domestic industries in trouble. 

If you plan for global exposure, you have to learn about these policies. You must take the additional expenses into consideration, so you’ll evaluate a realistic final price. Will it be acceptable for the living standard of the respective country?

Register the Corporate Names and Trademarks

When doing business abroad, you risk violating another brand’s intellectual property rights. You can avoid that by registering your brand’s names and trademarks. If that process goes undisturbed, you can feel free to offer the products on the respective market. 

Consider the Risk of a Changing Market Environment

No market situation is stable and rigid for all times. You will develop a general strategy, which will be based on solid international risk management. But no matter how well you predict potential risks and future circumstances, you cannot be 100% sure that you did it properly. 

In Deloitte’s Global Trade Management Survey, none of the Swiss chief financial officers who participated thought that the global trade environment would become less complex. Only 15% of them said they expected the conditions to remain the same. 

Your company must continuously review the strategy and make the needed adjustments as the market circumstances evolve.   

Evaluate Foreign Ethical Standard

When offering your products on a global market, you should think about the differing ethical standards that you’ll face. For example, Israel has a thriving vegan culture. It might not be a good idea to trade fur there before evaluating the risk of getting your brand dragged through discussions as an unethical one. 

Get well informed about the customs and social conditions in the country where you plan to expand. 

Invest Time and Resources on Collaboration

Business owners often neglect the need to get comprehensive advice through collaboration with foreign lawyers and governmental services. They want to save time and money, or they simply forget that getting insider information is crucial before international expansion. 

You need to talk to experts who will explain the laws and regulations. You might need finance experts from abroad as well. In addition, you have to collaborate with industry insiders who know the market and can help you build a solid network of connections.

Get Acquainted with Foreign Business Customs

You may be used to a direct, friendly approach with a bit of humor in the mix. But in a foreign country, such an approach may be considered unserious or even offensive. Intercultural differences are a major factor in foreign trading success. 

You have to get acquainted with business etiquette when entering a new market. You can find this information online, but it’s best to hire a business advisor from the country in question. You’ll get proper guidance from someone who knows the target region and the communication etiquette in the particular industry. 

The country’s culture, politics, and economy are also important. Learn as much as possible, so you can start and maintain a productive conversation with potential partners. 

Foreign Trade Is a Complex Endeavor

Yes, it will be a rewarding experience for you as a business owner. With the right approach, you’ll take your brand towards substantial growth. However, you have to conduct basic research regarding the risks you’ll face during the expansion. This is a process that requires thorough planning, so don’t rush through it.

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James Dorian is a technical copywriter. He is a tech geek who knows a lot about modern apps that will make your work more productive. James reads tons of online blogs on technology, business, and ways to become a real pro in our modern world of innovations.

economy

Back to Growth: U.S. Business Leaders Have Rosy Outlook for Economy

The COVID-19 pandemic has affected every aspect of our work and life.

Business executives have had to quickly reconfigure operations, and millions have had to unexpectedly work from home or cease work entirely. Videoconferencing has become the killer app, and Zoombombing became a new privacy concern.

Despite the widespread health and business challenges brought on by the coronavirus, two-thirds of U.S. business leaders are optimistic the domestic economy will recover within a year, according to a survey TMF Group recently released.

It’s an encouraging sign that business executives in the U.S. are expressing this type of optimism, particularly based on the unprecedented challenges experienced throughout the economy over the last few months. This group was obviously very confident before the onset of the pandemic, and they now seem eager to not only restart their businesses but help reignite the economy as well.

We conducted the survey in the middle of April to gain insight into how companies plan to navigate these uncertain times. More than 40 percent of the 300 decision-makers who took part in the poll work in companies with more than 5,000 employees. Most of the respondents (85%) said their companies do business outside the United States.

Nearly a quarter of respondents (23%) expect a V-shaped economic recovery, meaning a dramatic bounce to pre-virus activity by the end of 2020 following the sharp collapse. Only a small minority (12%) anticipate the economic impact of the pandemic to the last two years or more.

Looking beyond the U.S., business executives were a little less optimistic but still positive: 56% of respondents said the global economy would recover within a year.

It may be easy for critics to judge the survey takers as stereotypical American optimists, but I believe their confidence is grounded on some key facts. The economic shock has been largely demand-driven, as travel restrictions and government stay-at-home orders shut down wide swaths of the U.S. and global economies. Many of the world’s governments acted quickly to offset the economic damage. In the U.S., the federal government and central bank organized a massive stimulus package and pumped trillions of dollars into financial markets. More than 60% of respondents said the financial support to workers and businesses in the U.S. has had a very positive or somewhat positive effect on their companies.

Now, as states allow more businesses to reopen, consumers are eagerly venturing out despite the ongoing health risks. As consumer and business demand rebound, companies will begin hiring again.

Indeed, business decision-makers are confident their businesses will rebound quickly. More than half say their companies will return to normal operations within six months.

In times of crisis, there’s a premium on bold leadership and decisive action. Resilient leaders continue to mount appropriate responses to the global pandemic while charting paths to recovery.

The survey underscored that the pandemic has forced business to rapidly evolve. Many are moving ahead to reassess, reimagine or reinvent their businesses. Thirty-six percent say they plan to accelerate plans for international expansion, and 32% plan to seize domestic growth opportunities.

It’s a positive sign that the strategic imperative to go global remains strong because COVID-19 has dealt a serious blow to the international system. The World Trade Organization predicted in April that world merchandise trade would plummet between 13% and 32% this year.

But the factors that have driven globalization for several centuries have not disappeared. People have been driven to seek profit internationally since the earliest days of the Silk Road, and this instinct will continue. Furthermore, the spirit of international cooperation has been strong in the response to the pandemic. Companies, government agencies and nongovernmental organizations are working across borders to solve problems at scale, such as developing a vaccine for the coronavirus.

A big motive for international expansion is the diversification of supply chains, cited by 35% of respondents. The coronavirus has interrupted the flow of goods across borders, from raw materials to finished products. The disruption has vividly illustrated that today’s highly interlinked, international supply chains have more potential points of failure and less margin for error for absorbing delays and disruptions.

Reducing dependence on one country or region is a priority. Diversifying your supplier base may increase costs in the short-term but will make your network more flexible and agile and potentially reduce the economic shock of future disruptions.

The outbreak of COVID-19 forced business to reassess every strategic objective and business plan. The health crisis has exposed vulnerabilities and created unforeseen challenges.

As businesses around the world consider how they can return from the economic crisis unleashed by COVID-19, the survey results provide some food for thought. Expanding internationally or domestically in uncertain times, for instance, may seem counterintuitive but could also fuel faster growth. Severe adversity provides real perspective. It is possible to find strength and confidence in the face of real hardship.

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TMG Group is an international professional services firm that provides administrative support services across multiple jurisdictions.

manufacturing

MADE IN AMERICA: 20 TOP U.S. CITIES FOR MANUFACTURERS

More than 11 million Americans worked in the manufacturing sector in 2016, according to the U.S. Department of Commerce. These are good jobs, too: T­he average payroll by employee in manufacturing is $57,266. But while manufacturing was the heart of the American economy a century ago, today it’s far more select. Here’s a look at the top 20 cities in the U.S. for advanced manufacturing.

Columbus, Indiana

Columbus is one of the nation’s true powerhouses, with 38 percent of employment dedicated to advanced manufacturing and industry. (That’s compared to 9 percent nationwide). According to the Greater Columbus Indiana Economic Development Corp., Columbus manufacturing is specialized in six industries: machinery and engines, transportation, paper products, fabricated metals, plastics, and pharmaceuticals. It’s no wonder the city is home to the North American R&D centers for Cummins, Faurecia, Toyota Material Handling, Dorel, Enkai, and PMG Indiana. The city is currently working to expand that manufacturing base to include aerospace, cybersecurity, defense, and engineering/R&D services.

Bowling Green, Kentucky

That every Chevrolet Corvette made since 1981 came from Bowling Green ought to tell you something about the city’s manufacturing base. In 2017, about 17 percent of the city’s workforce was in manufacturing (up from 14.4 percent just five years previously), according to USA Today, and they’re responsible for $1.1 billion in exports. The manufacturing base in the city is incredibly diverse, with firms located there making automotive airbag inflators (ARC Automotive), new and used pallets (B&D Pallet), laser marking machines (Beamer Laser Marketing Systems), faucets (Delta Faucets) and paint (Sherwin-Williams).

Lake Charles, Louisiana

There are currently $57 billion worth of manufacturing and petro-chemical projects planned for the Lake Charles metro area, according to a September 2019 Nola.com article. This translates into 3,000 new jobs for 2020, and another 3,800 new jobs in 2021. Considered an economic power for some time now, the region boasts that about 9 percent of its workforce is in manufacturing, and they produced a little more than $7 billion worth of exports in 2018, according to AdvisorSmith. In per capita terms, that pencils out to more than $33,000, which AdvisorSmith ranked seventh highest in the nation.

San Jose, California

San Jose supports more than 65,000 manufacturing jobs—more than twice the number found in the rest of the Bay Area combined, according to a 2016 report from SFMade. It’s home to one of the nation’s Manufacturing Innovation Institutes, which specializes in Flexible Hybrid Electronics, and is part of a network of manufacturing innovation centers set up by the Obama Administration in 2013. The manufacturing output of San Jose was a remarkable $76 billion in 2018, ranking it sixth on AdvisorSmith’s Top 50 list of cities with strong manufacturing economies.

Rocky Mount, North Carolina

Once known predominantly for agriculture and textiles, this North Carolina city (population: 54,000) is known as a regional manufacturing center that produced more than $6 billion worth of exports in 2018. The engine manufacturer Cummins has a plant there, as does Corning, which makes glass. The city is also home to metal fabricators, industrial packaging makers, and hardware producers. Manufacturing has grown by nearly 12 percent in recent years, according to AdvisorSmith, which also reported that Rocky Mount’s manufacturing totaled more than $42,000 on a per capita basis, making it one of the most dynamic industrial cities in the nation.

Greeley, Colorado

Vestas Blades makes wind turbines. Burris Co. manufactures rifle scopes. Norfolk Iron & Metal produces carbon steel. IES Combustors makes waste gas combustion equipment. Worthington Industries manufactures a wide range of products, including cab enclosures for tractors, industrial components, propane cylinders, and water systems. What all these companies have in common is their location in Greeley, where nearly 13 percent of the labor force is in manufacturing. In 2017, they were responsible for nearly $800 million in exports. To keep the growth steady, Greeley firms are focusing on finding new talent through better apprenticeship programs, benefits packages, and workforce culture, according to a recent article in the Greeley Tribune.

Jackson, Mississippi

It shouldn’t be surprising that 60 percent of the manufacturing sector in Jackson supplies products and services to the automotive market, according to the Jackson Chamber of Commerce. Companies such as Michigan Automotive Compressor, Lomar Machine & Tool Co. and Tenneco form the heart of Jackson industry. But medical device manufacturing is a growing part of the local economy. A big part of why Jackson is able to sustain such industries is the Academy for Manufacturing Careers (AMC), a Department of Labor-certified training program and trade school established in 2005 by the Jackson Area Manufacturers Association. The AMC offers full training for CNC machinists, tool and die makers, machine builders, industrial electricians, and a host of other specialties.

Greenville, South Carolina

Greenville has been known as a center for advanced manufacturing since at least 2003 when the Harvard Business Review wrote approvingly of the city’s “visionary leaders,” “hospitable business climate,” “customized training” and “collaboration within the business community.” Those factors are still driving economic development there today, with nearly 60,000 workers (14 percent of the labor force) in Greenville producing $5 billion worth of manufacturing exports, according to USA Today. They work for companies such as Michelin North American (radial tires), GE Power (gas turbines), Bosch Rexroth (fluid pumps), and Confluence Outdoor (boats and boating accessories).

Kokomo, Indiana

This central Indiana city, long a center of automobile manufacturing, is best known today as one of the nation’s top suppliers of automotive transmissions. Not bad for a city that was devastated in the 2008 financial crisis (General Motors, Chrysler, and Delphi all had plants there), but the city has recovered since along with the auto industry itself. Today, nearly 30 percent of the labor market in Kokomo works in manufacturing—up from 25 percent in 2012. According to AdvisorSmith, the city’s manufacturing sector produced $3.7 billion in 2018—which penciled out to nearly $45,000 on a per capita basis.

Sheboygan, Wisconsin

This little city located on Lake Michigan at the head of the Sheboygan River is now a preeminent industrial center, specializing in car parts, furniture, and metal products. In fact, the metals fabrication company Kohler is the area’s largest employer, with more than 5,000 workers, according to the Sheboygan County Economic Development Corporation. That industry is so big there that the county has six times the national average worth of metal manufacturing and makes 11 times the national average of fabricated metal products. Sheboygan workers produced $3.1 billion worth of manufacturing exports in 2018, according to AdvisorSmith.

Bellingham, Washington

Bellingham’s manufacturing output grew more than 10 percent between 2014 and 2018, according to AdvisorSmith. And it’s still growing—a Bellingham Herald article reported in January that Tidal Vision, an established Bellingham operation that converts marine byproducts into eco-friendly items like water treatment, would be expanding, and other manufacturers would soon be growing in the greater Whatcom County area. A huge array of manufactured goods comes from the Bellingham area, including saw blades, high-performance brakes, ultrasonic gel, anchor chain, remanufactured engines, precast concrete, natural pet foods, construction-grade lumber and fiberglass boats, according to the Port of Bellingham.

Lima, Ohio

The manufacturing sector in Lima employs nearly 46,000 people and pays an average salary of more than $67,000 a year, according to TownSquare Publications. Though hurt badly in the 2007 recession, Lima recovered, and today is home to Proctor & Gamble, Ford, and General Dynamics. Lima also hosts the Joint Systems Manufacturing Center, the nation’s only factory that still produces tanks for the U.S. military. If anything, the city’s main challenge for the future is attracting a steady stream of new workers. Lima’s manufacturing output per capita was just under $40,000 in 2018, according to AdvisorSmith.


Beaumont, Texas

A century ago, Beaumont translated the riches of the Spindletop oil deposits to become the second-largest refinery in the nation. Today, Beaumont is quickly growing again, but in manufacturing. Employment in machinery manufacturing and electrical equipment manufacturing grew 53 and 45 percent, respectively, between 2010 and 2017, according to a Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas special report. The city’s largest employers include ENGlobal Corp., ExxonMobil, Goodyear Tire & Rubber, Motiva Enterprises and Valero Refining Group. Beaumont’s manufacturing output per capita in 2018 was $36,000, according to AdvisorSmith.

Savannah, Georgia

Manufacturing comprised nearly a quarter of the Savannah area’s economic output in 2017, according to the Savannah Chamber of Commerce. In real terms, that translates to slightly more than 22,000 people working at 346 plants. Growth in manufacturing employment held steady in 2017, 2018, and into 2019. One major employer, Gulfstream Aerospace, employs 11,000 workers for production, maintenance, engineering, research, and development. Another Savannah firm, JCB, has about 600 workers who build light capability, rough terrain forklifts for the Department of Defense. All told, Savannah is responsible for about $2.3 billion in manufacturing exports.

Yuma, Arizona

In 2018, AQST Space Systems Group, which provides strategic planning to space and defense industry in satellites, space systems, artificial intelligence, and robotic, was looking to move its secured manufacturing operation out of Puerto Rico. The company ended up choosing Yuma because of its friendly business environment, infrastructure, turnkey facilities, and support, according to the city of Yuma. This makes sense, given that the city’s manufacturing employment growth rate was second in the nation from 2014 to 2018, according to AdvisorSmith, and 10th in the U.S. in terms of manufacturing output growth.

Palm Bay, Florida

Defense and semiconductors are big business in Palm Bay—so big that the manufacturing industry is growing faster there than in any other Florida city, according to Space Coast Daily. The 2018 AdvisorSmith study reported that manufacturing output per capita in Palm Bay was $7,494, which was about $450 higher than the national average. The Palm Bay Chamber of Commerce says more than 500 manufacturers call Palm Bay and surrounding Brevard County home, including Patriot Fire Defense, Technolink, Inmarsat, and Advanced Magnet Lab. The chamber also boasts that its Made in Brevard program, which highlights the work of local manufacturers, helps encourage further investment.

Bremerton, Washington

Bremerton has been a manufacturing center for more than a century. The workshops, plants, and yards in the city and surrounding Kitsap County build an astonishing variety of products, including office furniture, prosthetic devices, fly fishing rods, LED lighting, unmanned underwater vehicles, patrol boats, schooners, and aircraft carriers, according to the Kitsap Economic Development Alliance. The compound growth rate of manufacturing employment at Bremerton was nearly five percent, according to AdvisorSmith. The Puget Sound Regional Council has also designated Bremerton to be one of eight Manufacturing/Industrial Centers in the region.

Clarksville, Tennessee

Manufacturing labor grew in Clarksville by an incredible 10 percent during 2018, according to a recent study by Kempler Industries. This shouldn’t be surprising, given that in the five years prior to the study, manufacturing employment grew 17 percent, according to USA Today. Data from the Clarksville/Montgomery County Economic Data Center shows the manufacture of automotive parts and industrial machinery have seen especially high rates of growth in recent years—58 percent and 34 percent, respectively. Major employers include Akebono (hubs and rotors), Bridgestone (steel cord), Hendrickson (tractor-trailer air-ride) and Trane (heating and air-conditioning equipment).

Reno, Nevada

The Economic Development Authority of Western Nevada says manufacturing is the fastest growing industry in the greater Reno area. In fact, AdvisorSmith recently ranked Reno seventh on its list of America’s 50 strongest manufacturing economies. Reno offers business-friendly regulations, 80 million square feet of affordable industrial space, some of the lowest electricity costs in the Western U.S., and a hard-working, educated labor force. Some of Reno’s biggest manufacturers are Trex (wood-alternative decking), Tyco (security systems), IGT (slot machines), and James Hardie (building materials).

Ogden, Utah

Manufacturing employment grew in Ogden nearly 18 percent between 2012 and 2017, according to USA Today. That means these days the city’s labor force produces $3.2 billion worth of manufacturing exports. Aerospace is a key part of the industry there, especially since the city is just two miles from Hill Air Force Base. ATK, which builds weapons systems for the U.S. military, has an operation in Ogden, as does Parker Hannifin, which makes aircraft hydraulic and control systems. Other manufacturers include Chromalox (heating elements), JBT Aerotech (commercial aircraft boarding bridges), Levelor (window blinds), and Kimberly-Clark (diapers).

site selection

Our Annual Governor’s Cup Ranks Top 10 Southern States for Site Selection Incentives

A funny thing happened on the way to compiling Global Trade’s latest Annual Governor’s Cup feature on state site selection incentives: the preponderance of states from the South that offer more attractive benefits than just about anywhere else in the country.

Rather than cast the net wide enough to include non-southern states for the sake of comprehensiveness, we decided to this year focus more strongly on the country’s hottest region. There are 16 states in the American South, and based on data and statistics from the U.S. government and various business, industry and media entities, we have ranked the top 10.

It must be mentioned that differing sources had Tennessee and Georgia as the top state among all 50 when it comes to site selection incentives. We did not flip a coin but instead gave The Volunteer State the ever-so-slight edge based on the quality of incentives offered. Really, you would do well to start up or relocate in either state or, heck, any of the 10 that follow.

1. TENNESSEE

Capital: Nashville

Population: 6.77 million

GDP: $287.77 billion (2-16)

Largest cities: Nashville, Memphis, Knoxville, Chattanooga

Targeted industries: Business Services, Chemicals, Plastics & Rubber, Food & Agribusiness, Distribution & Logistics, Aerospace & Defense, Transportation, Healthcare & Medical Devices, Energy Technology, Automotive, Advanced Manufacturing

Site location success story: Amazon opening a major operations and logistics office hub in Nashville that creates 5,000 high paying jobs and pumps $230 million into the local economy.

Key agency: Tennessee Department of Economic & Community Development

Key site-selection incentives:

*Fast Track Economic Development Fund, which provides grants to local communities to reimburse companies for eligible expenditures not covered by infrastructure or job training grants, including relocation of equipment, temporary office space, capital improvements and retrofitting.

*Job Tax Credit of $4,500 per job to offset up to 50 percent of franchise and excise taxes (F&E) in any given year with a carry forward for up to 15 years so long as businesses create at least 25 net new full-time positions within a 36 month period and invest at least $500,000 in a qualified business enterprise.

*Enhanced Job Tax Credit, which allows an additional annual credit for locations/expansions in designated Tier 2, Tier 3 and Tier 4 Enhancement Counties and can offset up to 100 percent of F&E liability.

*Industrial Machinery Tax Credit of 1-10 percent for the purchase, third party installation and repair of qualified industrial machinery used in manufacturing, warehousing and distribution and at headquarters and call centers.

*Sales and Use Tax Exemptions at headquarters or for industrial machinery and reduced sales tax rates for utilities at qualified call centers, data centers and warehousing, distribution and manufacturing facilities.

*Research and Development sales tax exemption.

*FastTrack Job Training Assistance Program for new or expanding companies that provide funding to support the training of net new full-time employees.

*Export Assistance that includes networking, training and free planning services and trade and travel assistance.

2. GEORGIA

Capital: Atlanta

Population: 10.52 million (2018)

GDP: $461.1 billion (2016)

Largest cities: Atlanta, Columbus, Augusta, Macon

Targeted industries: Call Centers, Cybersecurity, Financial Technology, Food Processing, Logistics, Automotive, Life Sciences, Aerospace, Information Technology, Manufacturing, Headquarters

Site location success story: Brazil’s Guidoni Group, which is one of the leading producers and exporters of ornamental stones in the world, locating a manufacturing facility in McRae-Helena that creates 455 jobs and invests $96 million. The project is slated to open in 2020’s third quarter.

Key agency: Georgia Department of Economic Development

Key site selection incentives:

*No real or personal property tax, no state property tax on inventory and 5.75 percent corporate income tax.

*Inventory Tax Exemption, where counties and municipalities have the option of enacting a local property tax exemption for four classes of inventory at 20, 40, 60, 80 or 100 percent of the value.

*Investment Tax Credit for companies to upgrade or expand as long as they have operated a manufacturing or telecommunications facility (including corporate office and other support facilities) for at least three years in the state.

*Mega Project Tax Credit, which is available for companies that employ at least 1,800 net new employees, and either invest a minimum of $450 million or have a minimum annual payroll of $150 million.

*Port Tax Credit Bonus rewards new or expanding companies that increase imports or exports through a Georgia deepwater port by at least 10 percent over the previous or base year. It can be used with the Job Tax Credit program or the Investment Tax Credit program.

*Quality Jobs Tax Credit for jobs that pay higher-than-average wages.

*Research & Development Tax Credit for Georgia companies performing qualified research and development in manufacturing, telecommunications, broadcasting,

warehousing & distribution. R&D, processing and tourism.

3. SOUTH CAROLINA

Capital: Columbia

Population: 5 million (2017)

GDP: $183.8 billion (2016)

Largest cities: Charleston, Columbia, North Charleston, Mount Pleasant

Targeted industries: Advanced Materials, Distribution & Logistics, Aerospace, Automotive, Office/Shared Services, Life Sciences, Advanced Manufacturing

Site location success story: AIRSYS Cooling Technologies Inc., global information, communication and technology cooling solution provider, establishing operations in Spartanburg County, where more than $5 million is to be invested and 116 new jobs created.

Key agency: South Carolina Department of Commerce

Key site-selection incentives:

*Economic Development Set-Aside Program that assists companies in locating or expanding in South Carolina by providing financial assistance for road or site improvements and other costs related to business location or expansion.

*Single Factor Sales Apportionment for a company whose primary business in the state is manufacturing, distribution or selling or dealing intangible personal property. The apportionment formula is advantageous for a company whose majority of sales occur outside of South Carolina.

*Corporate Headquarters Credit of 20 percent based on the cost of the actual portion of the facility dedicated to the headquarters operation or direct lease costs for the first five years of operation.

*Credit for Revitalization of Abandoned Buildings, of which at least 66 percent has been closed continuously or otherwise nonoperational for at least five years.

*Fee-in-lieu of Property Taxes may be offered by a county to companies with a total investment of $2.5 million or greater on new buildings and equipment.

*Investment Tax Credit that allows manufacturers a one-time corporate income tax credit for a company’s investment in new production equipment.

*Job Development Credit that can refund a portion of state withholding tax liability for 10-15 years.

*Port Volume Increase Credit for manufacturers, distributors or entities engaged in freight forwarding, freight handling, goods processing, cross-docking, transloading or wholesaling of goods that use state port facilities and increase base port cargo volume by at least 5 percent over base-year totals.

*Research & Development Tax Credit equal to 5 percent of the taxpayer’s qualified research expenses in the state.

4. NORTH CAROLINA

Capital: Raleigh

Population: 10.2 million (2017)

GDP: $538.3 billion (2017)

Largest cities: Charlotte, Raleigh, Greensboro, Durham

Targeted industries: Biotech & Pharmaceuticals, Automotive, Aerospace & Defense, Agribusiness & Food Processing, Business & Financial Services, Information & Communication Technology, Truck & Heavy Equipment

Site location success story: Merck, a leading global biopharmaceutical company, investing $57 million to establish a filling and packaging line for the company’s RotaTeq vaccine and create 55 jobs in Wilson.

Key agency: Economic Development Partnership of North Carolina

Key site-selection incentives:

*Job Development Investment Grant that provides cash grants to new and expanding businesses to help offset the cost of locating or expanding in North Carolina.

*One North Carolina Fund that allows the governor to respond quickly to competitive job-creation projects that do also require a local match.

*Building Reuse Programs for renovation and upfitting vacant industrial and commercial buildings.

*Singles Sales Factor Apportionment that determines how much of a corporation’s income is subject to state tax based solely on its revenue from sales located in or sourced to North Carolina.

*Sales and Use Tax Exemptions for specified manufacturing, fulfillment, data centers and more.

5. ALABAMA

Capital: Montgomery

Population: 4.87 million (2017)

GDP: $211 billion (2017)

Largest cities: Birmingham, Montgomery, Huntsville, Mobile

Targeted industries: Aerospace/Defense Manufacturing, Automotive Manufacturing, Chemical Manufacturing, Agricultural Products/Food Production Manufacturing, Steel/Metal Manufacturing, Distribution & Logistics, Information Technology

Site location success story: Airbus’ first single-aisle A220 passenger jet rolling out this year at its second Mobile campus, which opened last year.

Key agency: Economic Development Partnership of Alabama

Key site-selection incentives:

*Alabama Department of Commerce’s Certified Capital Company (CAPCO) Program offers an alternative to conventional bank financing to accommodate a slightly higher risk profile and provide a more flexible structure for growing businesses in the state.

*Industrial Revenue Bonds, which are tax-exempt and issued at rates lower than conventional sources, may be used as long-term financing of up to 100 percent of a project for acquisition of land, buildings, site preparation and improvements; building, furnishing and filling structures; and “soft costs” such as architectural and engineering, interest incurred during construction, cost associated with bond issuance, etc.

*Investment Credit for a qualifying project for up to 10 years and can be taken against the Alabama income tax liability and/or utility tax liability.

*Jobs Credit annual cash rebate up to 3 percent of the previous year’s gross payroll (not including fringe benefits) for eligible employees for up to 10 years. The rebate rises if at least 12 percent of employees are veterans.

6. TEXAS

Capital: Austin

Population: 28.3 million (2017)

GDP: $1.7 trillion (2017)

Largest cities: Houston, San Antonio, Dallas, Austin

Targeted industries: Advanced Technologies & Manufacturing, Energy, Information & Computer Technology, Petroleum Refining & Chemical Products, Biotech & Life Sciences, Aerospace & Defense

Site location success story: United Alloy Inc., a serial production metal fabrication and powder coating company, building its new state-of-the-art, 200,000-square-foot manufacturing facility on a 27-acre site in Seguin, which benefits from at least 100 new jobs and $35 million in total capital investment over a three-year period.

Key agency: The Governor’s Office of Economic Development & Tourism | Gov.texas.gov/business | (512) 936-0100

Key site-selection incentives:

*Capital Access Program financing for small and medium-sized businesses and non-profits which face barriers to accessing capital or fall outside of guidelines of conventional lending.

*Industrial Revenue Bonds that provide tax-exempt financing for land and depreciable property for eligible industrial or manufacturing projects.

*Spaceport Trust Fund financial support for the development of infrastructure necessary or useful for establishing a spaceport in Texas.

*Texas Enterprise Fund awards “deal-closing” cash grants to companies considering a new project for which one Texas site is competing with other out-of-state sites.

*Texas Product Development & Small Business Incubator Fund long-term, asset-backed loans to product development companies and small business incubators/accelerators located in Texas.

*Business Relocation Tax Deduction & Exemption for qualified businesses relocating to Texas.

*Renewable Energy Incentives for any qualifying Texas business that exclusively manufactures, sells or installs wind or solar energy devices.

*State Sales & Use Tax Exemptions for rented, leased or purchased machinery, equipment, replacement parts and accessories that have a useful life of more than one year or 12 months, and that are used or consumed in the manufacturing, processing, fabricating or repairing of tangible personal property for ultimate sale.

*Texas Economic Development Act incentives for large-scale manufacturing, research and development and other large capital investment projects that locate in Texas.

*Texas Enterprise Zone Program state sales and use tax refunds for private investment and job creation in economically distressed areas of the state.

*Texas Research & Development Tax Credit sales tax exemption when buying materials, software and equipment directly used in qualified R&D purposes.

 7. KENTUCKY

Capital: Frankfort

Population: 4.45 million (2017)

GDP: $202.5 billion (2017)

Largest cities: Louisville, Lexington-Fayette, Bowling Green, Owensboro

Targeted industries: Automotive Related Engineering & Manufacturing; Aerospace; Advanced Manufacturing; Logistics & Distribution; Food & Beverage; Aluminum & Steel Related Manufacturing; Chemicals, Plastic & Rubber

Site location success story: The first Kentucky operation for Precision Pulley & Idler, a supplier of idlers, pulleys, bearings and other products for the major bulk and material handling components industries. The $10.75 million production facility in Maysville creates more than 100 full-time jobs over the next decade.

Key agency: Kentucky Association for Economic Development

Key site-selection incentives:

*Direct Loan Program loans at below-market interest rates for fixed asset financing for agribusiness, tourism, industrial ventures or the service industry. Retail projects are not eligible.

*Industrial Revenue Bonds to finance manufacturing projects and their warehousing areas, major transportation and communication facilities, most health care facilities, and mineral extraction and processing projects.

*Kentucky Enterprise Fund and Rural Innovation Fund seed-stage capital for companies that are commercializing a technology-based product or process.

*Kentucky New Energy Ventures Fund seed stage capital to support the development and commercialization of alternative fuel and renewable energy products, processes and services.

*Kentucky Small Business Credit Initiative and Small Business Loan Program loans for small businesses engaged in manufacturing, agribusiness or service and technology.

*Angel Investment Tax Credit of up to 50 percent of an investment in Kentucky small businesses; the investor and business much each apply.

*Kentucky Business Investment Program income tax credits and wage assessments to new and existing agribusinesses, regional and national headquarters, manufacturing companies, alternative fuel, gasification, energy-efficient alternative fuels, renewable energy production companies, carbon dioxide transmission pipelines and non-retail service or technology related companies that locate or expand operations in Kentucky.

*Kentucky Enterprise Initiative Act tax breaks for new or expanded companies engaged in manufacturing, non-retail service or technology activities, agribusiness, headquarters operations, alternative fuel, gasification, energy-efficient alternative fuels, renewable energy production companies, carbon dioxide transmission pipelines, or tourism attraction project in Kentucky.

*Kentucky Industrial Revitalization Act tax credits for the rehabilitation of manufacturing or coal mining and processing operations that are in imminent danger of permanently closing or that have closed temporarily.

8. VIRGINIA

Capital: Richmond

Population: 8.47 million (2017)

GDP: $508.7 billion (2017)

Largest cities: Virginia Beach, Norfolk, Chesapeake, Richmond

Targeted industries: Cyber Security, ­ Software Publishing, Data Centers, Information/Communications Technologies, Corporate Services, ­ Headquarters, Supply Chain Management, Food & Beverage Processing, Advanced Materials, Aerospace, Automotive, Wood Products, Life Sciences, Unmanned Systems

Site location success story: Cascades, a Canadian packaging and tissue products producer, paid $40 million and plans to invest up to $300 million more to replace the Bear Island paper mill that shut down in Hanover County in 2017. The facility that’s planned to reopen in 2021 will employ 140 workers.

Key agency: Virginia Economic Development Partnership

Key site-selection incentives:

*Virginia Economic Development Incentive Grant for those locating significant headquarters, administrative or service sector operations in the state.

*Virginia Investment Performance Grant for companies involved in added capacity, modernization, increased productivity or the creation, development and utilization of advanced technology.

*Port of Virginia Economic and Infrastructure Development Grant Program for companies that locate new maritime-related employment centers or expand existing centers in the Commonwealth that foster the port’s growth.

*Virginia Small Business Financing Authority programs for small businesses that need access to capital for growth and expansion.

*Rail Industrial Access Program connecting businesses to freight rail service by funding the construction or improvement of railroad tracks and facilities to serve industrial or commercial sites where freight rail service is currently needed or anticipated in the future.

*Corporate Income Tax Credits for multiple industry and business sectors.

*Property Tax Exemptions for multiple types of industry and business property, equipment and tools.

*Sales & Use Tax Exemptions on gross receipts derived from retail sales or leases of tangible personal property, unless the retail sales or leases are specifically exempt by law.

9. MISSISSIPPI

Capital: Jackson

Population: 2.98 million (2017)

GDP: $111.7 billion (2017)

Largest cities: Jackson, Gulfport, Southaven, Hattiesburg

Targeted industries: Aerospace, Advanced Manufacturing, Shipbuilding, Agribusiness, Automotive, Forestry & Energy, Healthcare

Site location success story: Amazon leasing a 1 million-square-foot facility in DeSoto County’s Olive Branch for a fulfillment center that brings 500 new full-time jobs. Just 11 months ago, Amazon disclosed plans for its Marshall County fulfillment center that’s employing 850 workers.

Key agency: Mississippi Economic Development Council

Key site-selection incentives:

*Development Infrastructure Grant Program to finance infrastructure projects for manufacturers, warehouses and distribution centers, research and development facilities, telecommunications and data processing facilities and national or regional headquarters.

*Energy Efficiency Revolving Loan Program for businesses and other eligible entities that are increasing energy efficiency in their buildings, equipment and processes.

*Standard Property Tax Exemptions that local governing authorities may grant businesses locating or expanding in their areas for up to 10 years.

*Industrial Revenue Bond Program to finance companies’ location or expansion projects in the state.

*Advantage Jobs Incentive Program for businesses that create new, high-quality jobs through locating or expanding in the state.

*Growth and Prosperity Program state income tax, franchise tax and property tax exemptions for up to 10 years, as well as a sales and use tax exemption on equipment and machinery purchased during initial construction or an expansion at an approved facility.

*Jobs Tax Credit equal to a percentage of payroll for each newly created job for a five-year period for eligible businesses.

*Mississippi Aerospace Initiative Incentives Program is a 10-year income and franchise tax exemption and a sales and use tax exemption for the start-up of a new facility or expansion of an existing facility that manufactures or assemble products for use in—or that provides research and development or training services to—the aerospace industry.

*Mississippi Clean Energy Initiative Program is a 10-year income and franchise tax exemption and a sales and use tax exemption for the start-up of a new—or expansion of an existing—clean energy business.

*Mississippi Data Center Incentives for a business enterprise certified by the state as a data center.

*National or Regional Headquarters Sales Tax Exemption for an eligible business that creates or expands its national or regional headquarters in the state.

*Property Tax Exemption for Industrial Revenue Bond Financing.

*Property Tax Exemption on In-State Inventory (finished goods that will remain in the state).

*Research and Development Skills Tax Credit for a five-year period for each position requiring R&D skills.

10. LOUISIANA

Capital: Baton Rouge

Population: 4.68 million (2017)

GDP: $246.3 billion (2017)

Largest cities: New Orleans, Baton Rouge, Shreveport, Metairie

Targeted industries: Software Development, Energy, Automotive, Advanced Manufacturing, Aerospace, Process Industries, Agribusiness, Water Management, Entertainment

Site location success story: Testronic, a leading quality assurance firm in the digital gaming industry, launching a new 150-job testing facility in New Orleans that will result in another 169 new indirect jobs, for a total of 319 new jobs in New Orleans and the Southeast Region.

Key agency: Louisiana Economic Development

Key site-selection incentives:

*Competitive Projects Property Tax Exemption for non-manufacturing industry sectors, including corporate headquarters, distribution facilities, data services facilities, research and development operations, and digital media and software development centers.

*Economic Development Award Program financial assistance to influence a company’s decision to locate, relocate, maintain, rebuild and/or expand its business operations in Louisiana.

*Industrial Tax Exemption Program, which offers an attractive tax incentive for manufacturers who make a commitment to jobs and payroll in the state.

Sources: Bureau of Economic Analysis, U.S. Department of Commerce, BusinessFacilities.com, Site Selection Group, Area Development.

 

baltic

The Silver Lining of the Baltic Banking Crisis

The continuing revelations as to the extent of money laundered through Baltic banking systems, most notably the dramatic accusations against Danske Bank (which are now pulling in Deutsche Bank as well) were an unfortunate blow to the Baltic states’ reputations as dynamic and safe markets for foreign investments in Europe. However, substantial media scrutiny and the public and private sector response may actually result in a safer financial environment for investments and business operations in Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania as well as an improved EU structure to deal with money-laundering.

A Series of Money-Laundering Failures brings Global Scrutiny to the Baltics

Danske Bank, the headlining financial institution at the heart of the massive $280 billion money-laundering investigation, has already pulled out of Russia and the Baltic States as a result of its misadventures in the region. Other banks, however, were also caught laundering funds from Russian, Ukrainian, Chinese and North Korean sources in the last few years, including Swedbank.  Although the majority of the scandal has been laid at the feet of Estonian and Latvian banks and financial oversight bodies, Lithuania has not survived unscathed and ongoing investigations will likely expose additional breaches in finance laws and EU and U.S. sanctions regimes.

While the scandal has put a dent into the business reputation of Estonia and Latvia, the resulting scrutiny and investigations are likely to improve transparency in the region and improve legal regimes and oversight structures for international business operations moving forward.  The heightened focus on anti-money laundering (AML) tools has also spurred tech innovation, leading to the creation of critical private-sector expertise to help consumers and businesses identify and fight money-laundering activities.

Exposing the Weakness in EU Mechanisms

The scandal exposed not just national-level problems, it highlighted an EU-wide gap in AML mechanisms. The decentralized nature of AML regulation and the lack of coordination amongst country regulators and oversight bodies across the EU provides opportunities for abuse. Lack of formal channels of communication, inter-agency / regulator dialogue and cooperation weakens the overall ability of any one country to effectively share information, pool resources and fight trans-national financial criminal activity.

Additionally, integral to the EU’s current challenges has been the deficiency in adoption vs. implementation. Larger EU states such as France and Germany traditionally maintain sufficient financial and human resources to not only transpose EU AML Directives into local legislation, but to ensure effective implementation. Scarcity of expertise, limited capacity and shortfalls in funding among smaller states such as Cyprus, the Baltic states and Malta, on the other hand, have hindered the effectiveness of resulting oversight processes and procedures to reduce money laundering. There is a growing recognition as to this weakness in the system, and a recent joint proposal from finance ministers of France, Germany, Italy, Latvia, the Netherlands, and Spain to create a centralized anti–money laundering (AML) supervisor with EU-wide authority may help to close this gap.

Finally, the anonymous nature of cryptocurrency and digital assets have made them attractive to illicit users interested in perpetrating money laundering and terrorism financing. Their use in recent cases has exposed the need throughout the EU for further innovations in their regulation and oversight to ensure transparency, accountability and legality of digital asset transactions.

In response to these challenges, the EU has adopted the 5th Anti-Money Laundering Directive which is required to be transposed into local law by Member States by January 2020. Although transposition into local law is required by January 2020, the key to determining the success of this legislation will be dependent upon the resources and ability to implement. Strong centralized technical support, human and financial resources should be provided – especially to smaller Member States – as they work to locally adopt and transform these concepts into practice.

The Revelations have Spurred Innovation

Concerns over money laundering have forced the government to take action (albeit rearguard in nature) but have also sparked concern from the business community, which is equally concerned about the stability of the national and regional financial system. Taavi Tamkivi, CEO of Salv, the Estonian AML-focused start-up funded by Transferwise and Skype employees, noted that although the incidence of such AML cases in Estonia is disappointing, the fact that they were brought to light speaks to the Estonian commitment to transparency, accountability, and responsibility. Recent scandals have brought into the open the weaknesses in the Estonian system and instead of hiding these scandals or shirking responsibility, the Estonian government, regulators and private sector have come together to learn from these investigations, strengthen their systems and develop world-class systems of AML. Tamkivi went on to note that Know Your Customer (KYC) efforts and risk profiling of new clients are important but must be coupled with monitoring the millions of transactions flowing through financial institutions every day for suspicious behavior.

Additionally, data sharing between and amongst banks and the government is needed to ensure comprehensive understanding and communication of suspected criminal activity. The only way to undertake such intensive oversight is through innovations in technology. Tamkivi noted that “Estonia is known for its e-residency and digital-centric culture, so I’m confident we can find smarter ways to share and use the data we all have; protecting individuals, but catching more criminals. With the right technology, we can really solve it.  Moving fast is the only way to keep up with the innovative organized criminals moving millions or billions around the world.”

Tamkivi went on to share an important aspect of the Baltic business environment which highlights the resiliency and affinity for innovation: “You can think of the Baltics nations, in many ways, as country-sized startups. We witnessed the mistakes and pitfalls of long-established nations from afar and, when we gained re-independence in the early 90s, we were able to start afresh. So, if you take a close look, you’ll find a dense web of fresh ideas and innovation woven into our structures. Sometimes, like Skype, TransferWise, and Bolt they do manage to kick off a profound change in the world.”

The Baltic Region Represents some of the Best Locations for Business Expansion in Europe

The innovative atmosphere that gave rise to tech companies such as Skype and Transferwise, vaulted Vilnius into the position of number one startup city for tech in the world, helped to launch the NATO Cooperative Cyber Defence Centre of Excellence and has all three countries listed in the top 20 for innovation globally by the World Bank Group is an astounding opportunity for foreign investors.  But the technology sector is not the only attraction to the Baltic economies.

According to the World Bank Group “Doing Business” assessment of jurisdictions, Lithuania, Estonia and Latvia rank 11th,  18th, and 19th respectively and all three rank highly on global lists for innovation, safety and quality of life.  The business-friendly nature of the Baltic countries coupled with their attractive cost of living provide a natural advantage in attracting a wide variety of global businesses. In 2018, Lithuania, Estonia and Latvia each outperformed the estimated EU hourly labor costs for the EU-28.

Closing the Gaps in the System

Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania need to take quick and decisive action to prevent money-laundering in the future, as does the EU, which is facing similar problems in banking systems in Malta, Cyprus and other member states.  But while the Danske Bank scandal is a black mark on the region, a robust response to these concerns by governments and innovative private companies such as Salv and others will ensure that the thriving Baltic market becomes an even more attractive location for foreign investment projects by reducing investor exposure and political risk concerns.  As Taavi notes ‘…though many of the recent negative headlines came from Estonia, that may not necessarily be as bad as it first appears. Everyday Estonians are notorious for their commitment to transparency, and taking responsibility for mistakes. And, honestly, now that scandals are out in the open, we can all learn from the investigations. I wouldn’t even be surprised if, as a result, Estonia then grows some of the greatest AML experts in the region.”

___________________________________________________________

Gabriella Kusz, CPA is an international economic and financial sector development expert with experience in the areas of financial sector strengthening, governance, and regulation.  Ms. Kusz has held senior-level positions at the World Bank Group as well as with the International Federation of Accountants. 

Kirk Samson is the owner of Samson Atlantic LLC, a Chicago-based international business consulting company which offers market research, political risk assessment, and international negotiations assistance.  Mr. Samson is a former U.S. diplomat and international law advisor.

houston

America’s Best Cities: Houston Tops Global Trade’s Seventh Annual Roundup

For Global Trade’s seventh annual list of America’s Best Cities, we have crunched the numbers from various public and private sources regarding ports, education, utilities, NAFTA access, export assistance, intermodal access, skilled workforce, transportation, workforce development programs and quality of life.

We ranked the 10 best cities for each related category, awarding points that ultimately put Houston, Texas, over the top as America’s Best City.

Houston is used to topping such lists, as we note with its separate No. 1 ranking on the U.S. Department of Commerce International Trade Administration’s 2018 goods export data for the nation’s 392 Metropolitan Statistical Areas.

Incidentally, that government data showed U.S. metro areas exported a significant $1.5 trillion in merchandise across the world in 2018, a $110.3 billion (or 8.1 percent) increase from the year before. Of the 259 metropolitan areas that reported positive export growth, 94 reached record levels.

“The Trump Administration is committed to addressing trade imbalances, breaking down trade barriers, and providing U.S. companies with new reach in foreign markets,” said Under Secretary of Commerce for International Trade Gilbert Kaplan. “With this increase in exports over the last year and the continued work of the Commercial Service, it is a fruitful time for American businesses.”

Charts throughout this section show the top cities and their rankings overall and in key areas, while honorably mentioned are the top 10 cities to watch, any of which could be on the way to leading a future Global Trade list of America’s Best Cities. But first, here are the top 20 cities, with their rankings, overall scores and some details about what made them leaders.

1. Houston

Overall score: 44

Top category: Education and Colleges (No. 1)

The Houston-The Woodlands-Sugar Land metropolitan area also topped the U.S. Department of Commerce International Trade Administration’s 2018 goods export data for the nation’s 392 Metropolitan Statistical Areas. That Texas metropolitan area had $120.7 billion in goods exports while also showing the highest annual dollar growth in exports, expanding $25 billion from 2017 to ’18.

2. Minneapolis

Overall score: 38

Top category: Skilled/Educated Workforce (No. 4)

Eight miles west of Minneapolis is Minnetonka, which is home to a key player in the region’s beefy export data. Cargill Inc. reported global beef sales helped lead the nation’s largest privately held company to a $915 million profit for the quarter ended Aug. 31. Minnesotans can moo about state exports rising 10 percent to a record $23 billion in 2018, outpacing the nation’s 8 percent jump.

3. Chicago

Overall score: 37

Top category: Transportation Infrastructure (No. 5)

Trading defines Chicago’s importance as a major international city, with two of the biggest commodity exchanges based there. With exports of $47.3 billion, the Chicago-Naperville-Elgin (Illinois-Indiana-Wisconsin) Metropolitan Statistical Area was fifth the U.S. Department of Commerce International Trade Administration’s 2018 goods export data for the nation’s 392 MSAs.

4. New York

Overall score: 32

Top category: Capable, Connected and Logistically Viable Ports (No. 1)

“If you want to start a business, create a new product or have a big idea, New York City is the place to be,” then-mayor Michael Bloomberg said in 2012. That remains true today of the world’s epicenter of finance, communication and culture. The New York-Newark-Jersey City (New York-New Jersey-Pennsylvania) Metropolitan Statistical Area came in second in the U.S. Department of Commerce International Trade Administration’s 2018 goods export data for the nation’s 392 MSAs, with exports of $97.7 billion.

5. Seattle

Overall score: 29

Top category: Transportation Infrastructure (No. 4)

About 70 percent of the Port of Seattle’s containerized cargo originates in, or is destined for, regions of the country outside the Pacific Northwest, making Seattle a trade gateway of regional, national and international significance. That’s partly due to being closer to Asia and Alaska than any other major U.S. seaport and also to two major U.S. railroads being within two miles of container terminals, and two major interstate highways just minutes from all terminals. With exports of $59.7 billion, the Seattle-Tacoma-Bellevue MSA came in fourth in the U.S. Department of Commerce International Trade Administration’s 2018 goods export data rankings.

6. Los Angeles

Overall score: 27

Top category: Transportation Infrastructure (No. 3)

Home to Hollywood, Los Angeles means showbiz, with movie studios, TV stations, and more. Its West Coast location also makes it a key hub for trade with Asia. With exports of $64.8 billion, the Los Angeles-Long Beach-Anaheim Metropolitan Statistical Area was third in the U.S. Department of Commerce International Trade Administration’s 2018 goods export data for the nation’s 392 MSAs.

7. San Francisco

Overall score: 25

Top category: Education and Colleges (No. 7)

San Francisco has a long history as an international gateway and is one of the major global business centers in the U.S.; its home to international companies such as Kikkomann (Japan), GCL Solar (China), Aegon (Netherlands), Deutsche Bank (Germany) and Globant (Argentina). ‘Frisco has also gained an international reputation as a center for innovation and entrepreneurship, with many global brands having been founded there, including GAP, Levi Strauss, URS Corp., Gensler, Salesforce and Twitter.

8. Atlanta

Overall score: 20

Top categories: Transportation Infrastructure and Intermodal Access (No. 2)

“Hot-lanta” was the 16th largest exporter in the U.S. in 2016, with a 7 percent increase over the previous year leading to $20.5 billion in the total Atlanta goods export value. What’s more, that represented a whopping 80 percent jump in export growth from 2006.

9. New Orleans

Overall score: 19

Top category: Capable, Connected and Logistically Viable Ports (No. 9)

Ports situated along the Mississippi River—from Baton Rouge to Myrtle Grove—are close enough together (some are even adjacent) to act as one large port complex often referred to the New Orleans Port Region. The region brings together all modes of transportation (ocean, barge, rail and truck) to link ports 228 miles upriver from the Gulf of Mexico with the gulf, Caribbean Sea, Atlantic Ocean and Panama Canal. The Port of South Louisiana moves more tonnage than any other North American port.

10. Austin

Overall score: 17

Top category: Skilled/Educated Workforce (No. 8)

You likely know that Austin is the state capital of Texas, home to the University of Texas flagship campus and the site of a thriving art, film, music and cultural scene. What you may not know is, with a population of more than 945,000 people, the Austin-Round Rock area is the 28th largest exporter in the U.S., exporting about $10.1 billion in goods and services annually.

11. Boston

Overall score: 15

Top category: Skilled/Educated Workforce (No. 5)

With M.I.T. and Harvard’s intellectual capital and strong financial markets, Boston possesses a wealth of infrastructure to accommodate global traders. The transportation infrastructure alone, which hubs six New England states, includes a deepwater port, three interstates, Amtrak and Conrail railroads and busy Logan Airport.

12. Omaha and Savannah

Overall score: 14 each

Top Omaha category: Developed Workforce/Development Programs (No. 4)

Top Savannah category: Intermodal Access (No. 6)

Greater Omaha is growing places. Over the past 10 years, exports in that region of Nebraska have increased by $1.9 billion, growing an average of 0.9 percent each year. Despite Savannah’s East Coast location, the historic Georgia city’s top trade lane for both export and import cargo is northeast Asia.

13. Denver

Overall score: 13

Top categories: Skilled/Educated Workforce and  Developed Workforce/Development Programs (No. 1)

Colorado exports increased 3.3 percent in 2018 to $8.32 billion, up from $8.06 billion in 2017. Being strategically located between Canada and Mexico allows metropolitan Denver to capitalize on NAFTA opportunities. That explains why Canada, with $1.4 billion in 2018 export value, and Mexico, which was just behind at $1.3 billion, are Colorado’s largest trading partners.

14. Jacksonville and Milwaukee

Overall score: 12 each

Top Jacksonville category: Capable, Connected and Logistically Viable Ports (No. 5)

Top Milwaukee category: Export Assistance (No. 2)

JAXPORT, as the cool kids call the Port of Jacksonville, annually ranks with nearby Brunswick, Georgia, and Baltimore as being among the top three U.S. ports in roll-on, roll-off vehicle shipments. High and heavy shipments are also growing at JAXPORT. With more than 2 million people and 50,000 businesses, the seven-county Milwaukee Region, which is centrally located on the Great Lakes, has a reputation for innovation, quality, ease and choice. In 2018, Wisconsin goods exports were $22.7 billion, an increase of 10 percent ($2.1 billion) from its export level in 2008.

15. Boise

Overall score: 11

Top category: Best City to Live in (No. 4)

Given Idaho’s population of 1.754 million people, its total $4 billion in 2018 exports translates to roughly $2,300 for each Gem State resident. Most of that export activity is centered in Boise, which is experiencing a boom due to its affordability and quality of life.

16. Charleston, Detroit, Washington, D.C.

Overall score: 10 each

Top Charleston category: Capable, Connected and Logistically Viable Ports (No. 4)

Top Detroit category: NAFTA Access (No. 10)

Top Washington, D.C., category: Education and Colleges (No. 4)

Ranking as the country’s fastest-growing mid-sized metro for aircraft manufacturing, Charleston is flying high in the aerospace sector. Already home to aerospace leaders like Boeing and SKF Aero Bearing, Charleston in June was revealed to be French aerospace supplier AHG Fasteners-USA’s U.S. operations hub. AHG is the sixth company to locate in the historic South Carolina region as part of the Charleston Regional Development Alliance and the South Carolina Department of Commerce’s Landing Pad program, which assists global companies entering the U.S. market.

The hub for America’s automotive industry—thanks to three major automobile businesses with headquarters within principal city Detroit’s metropolitan area—Michigan shipped $57.9 billion worth of goods around the globe in 2018. That made Michigan America’s seventh-biggest exporting state behind Texas, California, New York, Washington, Louisiana and Illinois. Washington, D.C., was the top-ranked city on the 2019 Global Talent Competitiveness Index, followed by Copenhagen, Oslo, Vienna and Zurich.

The GTCI report, which includes a special focus on the encouraging, nurturing and developing of entrepreneurial talent, attributed the strong performance of the nation’s capital to its steady economy, dynamic population, outstanding infrastructure and connectivity, highly-skilled workforce and world-class education.

business listings

The Importance of Having Local Business Listings

In this day and age, it is clear that having a strong online presence is very important for any company. Business owners know that having a functional, informative, and visually attractive website will draw in more customers. The same goes for a strong social media presence. We’re sure that you’re marketing your business on Instagram, Facebook, and so on. However, what people sometimes don’t think about are local business listings sites. In this article, we’ll explain the importance of having local listings and why utilizing such listings would be beneficial for your business.

You’re Easier to Find if Your Name is in the Phonebook

Basically, think about local business listings as a sort of a digital-era phonebook. Nowadays, whenever people need information on a certain kind of business, they’ll most likely look for it online. Local business listings can introduce them to a variety of companies offering the kind of service or product they need, based on the potential customers’ area. For example, people looking for moving companies in New York would find the company Dumbo Moving and Storage Brooklyn, as well as important information such as the company’s working hours, address, link to the company’s website, and its phone number. As a lot of queries also specify the location of the kind of business they’re interested in, having your business on these area-based listings can help you a great deal.

Posting important information on local business listings is not hard to do and it doesn’t take much time. It is an easy way to improve your digital marketing. So, why waste the opportunity to efficiently attract new customers? There’s even a good chance that interested parties will give you a call right away. People often use the internet on their smartphones, so it’s very easy and convenient for them to call you as soon as they find your number on local business listings. And if you receive a phone call, then you’re already halfway to securing new customers.

SEO Benefits

Apart from this obvious advantage that local business listings provide, there are more “under the hood” benefits as well. Namely, they can increase your search engine visibility and overall brand visibility. If you’re paying attention to the keywords you use, then you’ll be pleased to learn that local business listings do the same. They’ll most likely use the same or similar keywords you’ve used, thus generally improving your SEO. These sites usually have significant domain authority. Even if your potential customers don’t find your website while using the specific keyword, they’re likely to find your profile on local business listings.

What’s more, the benefits to your search engine visibility don’t stop there. The people working for the major search engine companies like to compare their data with data found on such sites. If your information is there and it is consistent, search engines will deem your business to be more reliable and trustworthy. And if it’s not, they might think that you’re running a shady business, causing your SEO to degrade.

Local Business Listings Can Improve Your Reputation

The importance of local business listings in terms of your reputation isn’t only related to SEO. Potential customers themselves might think that it’s strange that your company isn’t listed there. They might consider it a red flag, warning them to take their business elsewhere. Even if they’ve already heard of your company, finding another one on local business listings might make them call that company and end their search right there and then.

On the other hand, local business listings also offer user reviews. If your company is not only listed there, with all the up-to-date, relevant information, but it also has a lot of good reviews, that’s often all it takes to secure a customer. While we know that many company owners often fear reviews, if you don’t have faith that you’ll receive good user reviews (in other words, if you’re not sure that you’re providing a quality service and/or products), then you have more pressing matters at hands than thinking about the importance of local business listings. However, if you are good at what you do, then you can expect the positive reviews on such sites to help you significantly. You can even post the same reviews on social media or on your website.

When it comes to your reputation, it is also worth noting that some business listings will include your information without your knowledge. This information could be incorrect. What’s more, your competitors can also use these listings to harm your company (this doesn’t happen often, but it is possible). Setting up your profile by yourself on local business listings will prevent that from happening.

Five Most Important Business Listings

So, utilizing local business listings is easy and can generally only help your business. The only thing to consider is which business listings to use. We’ve prepared a list of the five most important ones to help you out:

-Google My Business

-Yelp for Business Owners

-Yahoo Business Listing

-Bing Places for Business

-Facebook Business

There’s not too much difference between these five listings. They are all free and easy to use and setup. However, Yahoo Business Listing will require you to pay 9.95$ every month to allow you to include pictures, which could be important depending on the type of business you run. They also offer the option of paying 29.99$ every month. Choosing this option is recommended because Yahoo’s employees will then include your business in about 40 other local business listings as well, thus saving you some time.

Facebook Business is also highly recommended because many people are using Facebook to find businesses in their area, even if you are mostly doing business with baby boomers. Unlike other business listings, this one not only makes it easy for potential customers to call you, but it also makes it easy for them to message you, if that’s their preferred way of doing business.

Of course, these five sites are just the tip of the iceberg. Don’t stop there and try to include your business in as many local business listings as possible (even if you’ve paid for Yahoo Business’ 29.99$ option). Taking the time to do so means that you’ll have less time to dedicate to running your business, but in the long run – it’s definitely worth it.

Americana Holdings Announces Major Real Estate Acquisition

Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices real estate franchise, Americana Holdings, announced the acquisition of Tarbell, Realtors® this week. Tarbell is known for the operation of 20 Southern California-based offices. Family-owned Tarbell boasted $1.1 billion in sales for 2018.

“Culture is everything,” he said. “To find a company with the same thought process and has treated their people in such a positive and supportive manner is key. It’s unusual to find two organizations so committed to their people and to sustaining a quality culture – we’re a great match. We look forward to sharing all our support in helping these professionals further grow their businesses and provide even more value and service to their clients.”

Through the acquisition, Americana Holdings added 11 Tarbell offices around Orange County and Palm Springs. Office locations include Anaheim Hills, Lake Elsinore, La Quinta, Murrieta (French Valley and Menifee), Oasis Country Club, Palm Desert, Palm Springs, Temecula, Upland and Yorba Linda. Tarbell’s remaining offices were acquired by Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices franchises based in San Diego, Redlands and Cerritos.

“We’re excited to have found a real estate network that shares the same passion for the business that my family has had for generations,” said Ron Tarbell, CEO of Tarbell, Realtors®. “Our company’s standards of integrity, professionalism and service to the communities we serve are perfectly aligned with those of the Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices brand.”

“This merger continues the expansion of our California market presence, which has been a focus for our company,” said Gordon Miles, president and COO of Americana Holdings. “It continues to enhance our footprint in our Orange County and desert communities, while opening opportunities in new areas in which we weren’t previously represented.”

“Our primary objective at Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices is to help our network members grow,” said Gino Blefari, chairman of the network. “We are delighted to announce this transaction as Tarbell, Realtors® has a strong and distinguished legacy in the marketplace and has always attracted top real estate professionals. These professionals will further strengthen our brand and add significant value to the brokerages involved.”

Small-Town Life: Why it’s Good for Business

When it comes to relocating your business, you can go big (city) or you can go home. But while conventional wisdom would have you believe bigger is better, there’s something to be said for going home to small-town life–and small-town business. If you’re on the white picket fence about whether to relocate your business to a smaller, more rural locale, let these four small towns prove that bigger isn’t always better. We asked economic development leaders from Dodge City, Kansas; Kiowa, Kansas; Moundridge, Kansas; and Vandalia, Illinois, why small-town life is good for business. Here’s what we learned.

“One of the great things about living in a small town is the connectivity of businesses and residents; we can really bring partnerships together,” says JoAnn Knight, executive director of the Dodge City/Ford County Development Corporation. Dodge City hosts a population of fewer than 28,000 but has dealt with housing shortages with aplomb, pairing businesses with local universities to build and flip homes. The program benefits not just residents and contractors but new businesses looking to relocate in Dodge City and create jobs.

In nearby Moundridge, which is one of the fastest growing communities in Kansas, Economic Development Director Murray McGee cites the town’s hardworking workforce as a benefit to small-town business. We have a lot of manufacturing here and people experienced in manufacturing,” notes McGee, who is also director of the Moundridge Chamber of Commerce. “Good hardworking people—a good quality workforce.”

Another incentive to small town business? Incentives themselves, according to Kiowa City Administrator Lou Leone, who oversees a population of only 964. “In a smaller town if the town owns the utilities, it’s easier to offer incentives,” Leone explains. “Larger cities can’t always do that.”

Vandalia Economic Development Director Amber Daulbaugh echoes the sense of community—as well as a lack of competition—as major small-town selling points. “Depending on [the] type of business, there may not be competition, and their presence will fulfill needs in the community,” she explains.

Big city business is intrinsically different from small town business, but as all four experts are quick to point out, only in the best ways. Leone says one benefit of doing business in a town such as Kiowa is less bureaucracy. “We can move faster,” says Leone. “There are less middlemen, and the permitting process is a bit more streamlined.”

Over in the historic Illinois town of Vandalia, easier, more streamlined access as well as possible savings over big city business are just a few more perks, says Daulbaugh, who also cites a sense of community pride. “Word of mouth and referrals are utilized tremendously in small town business,” she explains. “Collaborations between small businesses are organized in efforts to reach more potential customers, [which] provides a sense of pride.”

According to Knight, that strong sense of pride is also helpful to another class of business. “In our community, a lot of our businesses are run by individual entrepreneurs that have been here for years,” she says of the Dodge City faithful.

McGee seconds the notion that a strong sense of business support comes from small town living, pointing to another major difference in many small cities and towns such as Moundridge: Utilities can often be a one-stop shop. “There’s a lot of synergy,” says McGee. “In Moundridge, our city provides all services: gas, water and electric. One call gets you everything you need. It gets people on site within minutes. That’s a big deal, especially in manufacturing.”

Much like their larger counterparts, in addition to incentives, smaller cities have their own local charm that cannot be duplicated.

Take historic Vandalia. Chartered on March 30, 1819, it is the oldest existing capital city. It’s also where President Abraham Lincoln began his political career as a state representative. Naturally, this brings a hearty tourist boost to Vandalia each year, when visitors view not just the statehouse but the town’s museums, gardens, trails–and its fire breathing dragon statue.

According to Knight, smaller cities can offer something else unique: a more personal relationship with business partners. “I think any community can do this but not all want to: listening to the businesses and seeing what we can do to meet their needs. It’s not always about land or water. We need to build a network to get them what they need. In Dodge City, we take a very hands-on approach to get businesses what they need to be successful.”

In Moundridge, McGee cites freebies for would-be business investors as a perk you can’t always find in larger cities. “Our community owns property,” he notes. “We offer free land for development in exchange for investment, development and job creation.”

Kiowa’s Leone says ownership of utilities makes smaller towns unique—and easier to do business with. “We own all four utilities, so we can gear packages toward driving costs down,” he says. “We’re very conscious about taxes as a whole. We try to get you the best bang for your buck on a lot of our projects.”

In the end, it all comes down to which businesses will do best in which towns–and that largely depends on the needs of the town as well as the resources and the skills of the local workforce.

In Kiowa, that looks like manufacturing, but Leone isn’t about to limit prospective businesses to just that. “Kiowa is open to any kind of business,” he says. “We have a very progressive council and have been talking about municipal internet for internet-based businesses or a data center. We have Kiowa-net on the shelf but wouldn’t hesitate to pull the trigger to get it going here for the right business.”

Over in Moundridge, McGee also recommends manufacturing for small-town business. “In my community, manufacturing works well because we have three global businesses here,” he says. “We have a workforce that is used to working in the manufacturing arena. We also have a major switch facility for Verizon Wireless, so tech companies could thrive here, too.”

Towns such as Vandalia could use a little bit of everything, says Daulbaugh. “A clothing and accessories store that has clothing and shoe options for the whole family and of all ages, a full-service, family-oriented restaurant, a microbrewery—we have a distillery that will open in 2020 and this would complement it,” she says.

Ultimately, what’s important to remember, as Knight so succinctly explains, is that one should never judge a city by its size. “In this day and age, you can be wherever you want and get what you need if you have the right resources.”

Fisker Inc. Manufacturing Announces New Senior Advisor

Don Jackson is the new name behind the manufacturing strategy and site selection at California-based Fisker Inc., the company confirmed this week. Jackson brings an extensive 40-year background in manufacturing leadership positions with big-name companies such as Volkswagen and Toyota.

“Following the exciting announcement on our affordable electric luxury SUV for the mass global market, we sought out an automotive industry leader with a strong history of results in high-volume manufacturing and the utmost in quality control,” said Henrik Fisker, chairman and CEO. “Don has lead operations for the largest OEMs, raising the bar in vehicle quality and reliability. We are delighted to have him join our team as we ramp up toward launch in 2021 and prepare to bring a more emotion-stirring, American-made EV design to people worldwide.”

Jackson’s role will directly impact and support Fisker’s focus on breakthrough automotive technology and advanced mobility solutions as the company continues finalizing facility selections for the production of an
all-electric luxury SUV to mass market.

“The future of the automotive industry lies in electric vehicles. There’s an undeniable shift toward sustainable mobility around the globe, and Fisker is breaking the mold with the most forward-thinking technologies complemented by Henrik’s world-renowned, emotionally-compelling design touches,” Jackson adds.

“I share Fisker’s vision of driving mass electrification forward by producing more desirable EVs for the global market here in the United States, and I look forward to building a disruptive strategy that combines Fisker’s unique business model with the very best manufacturing practices that assure unparalleled results and outstanding, reliable products. The Fisker team is committed to exceeding customer expectations globally.”