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  September 27th, 2016 | Written by

Top Cities for global trade

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Population: 258,071 | Unemployment: 4.5 percent | Closest Port: Port of Buffalo

Though Buffalo shipped a respectable amount of exports last year ($4.8 billion), the state’s second largest city was responsible for only the third-highest export total, making up just 5 percent of the state total. Leaders in the city know they can do better and there has been a concerted effort to provide businesses big and small with information and connections. In September the city hosted an intensive two-day export seminar covering such critical subjects as complying with regulations and developing export management and compliance programs.

Population: 2,296,224 | Unemployment: 5.5 percent | Closest Port: Port of Houston

As with so many of its forward-thinking business and trade initiatives, Houston was one of the first cities to set up an agency specifically to facilitate exports. Founded in 1977, the Houston District Export Council has standing committees for Knowledge Transfer and Special Projects and is populated with manufacturers, educators, consultants and export facilitators. Has it worked? Well, Houston regularly ranks in the top three U.S. cities for exporting and the Port of Houston is the largest Texas port with 44 percent of market share, handling 68 percent of all U.S. Gulf Coast container traffic. So, yeah, it works!

Population: 853,173 | Unemployment: 4.2 percent | Closest Port: Indianapolis International Airport

Between 1990 and 2012, nearly 27,000 manufacturing jobs were lost in the city, many from the plant closures of Chrysler, Ford and General Motors. Helping to make up for those losses has been the tech industry creating 29,000 jobs and a strong emphasis on finding new markets and customers through exporting. The Indianapolis Chamber of Commerce works with JPMorgan Chase to provide financial assistance through the GoGlobal Grant Export Acceleration Program that helps qualifying companies prepare for and expand to new, international markets.

Population: 101,643 | Unemployment: 7.7 percent | Closest Port: Las Cruces International Airport

Las Cruces’ incredible jump in exports to $1.3 billion in shipped goods in 2014 represented a near-ridiculous 210 percent increase over the previous year. Success has a lot to do with city programs and initiatives such as the Gateway to Exporting Program that works to significantly increase exports by small businesses by helping them access international trade resources, promote their products to target markets and identify and facilitate meetings with potential buyers.

Population: 471,825 | Unemployment: 5.3 percent | Closest Port: Phoenix-Mesa Gateway Airport

The Mesa Office of Economic Development offers local companies a crash course in exporting through its ExporTech Boot Camp, which provides an export “coach” to walk each company through the process of logistics, compliance and identifying international markets. The program is especially mindful of trade in Mexico, giving companies the opportunity to arrange pre-vetted meetings with potential distributors and business-to-government matchmaking services throughout the Mexico market.

Population: 410,939 | Unemployment: 3.7 percent | Closest Port: Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport

You might be surprised to find out that Minneapolis is second only to Chicago as a Midwest economic center, home to five Fortune 500 companies. It’s also a powerhouse-exporting hub in part because it has a plan. Its five-year plan to increase and sustain regional jobs by doubling local exports from 2012 to 2017 got off to a rousing start when, after one year, exports grew by 26 percent. Helping in that mission has been an emphasis on such programs as “New To Export/New To Market,” enlisting local global assets in coordinated trade missions to targeted markets.

Population: 654,610 | Unemployment: 4.0 percent | Closest Port: Nashville International Airport

If you have a business and you’re looking for help, there are few places you’d rather be than Nashville, where the likes of the Entrepreneur Center incubator, Jumpstart Foundry seed stage innovation fund and an aggressive chamber of commerce provide all manner of resources—whether data, information or investments. That kind of help is one reason that the city’s exports have steadily climbed; another would be an ever-expanding automobile sector. For instance, the city increased 35 percent from 2012 to 2013 and another 10 percent the following year.

Population: 389,617 | Unemployment: 6.4 percent | Closest Port: Port of New Orleans

The resurrection of New Orleans has been nothing short of amazing. After 2005’s devastating Hurricane Katrina the city had lost nearly a third of its population by 2010. And yet, through the efforts of organizations such as the World Trade Center, New Orleans, the area has rebounded in part thanks to international trade, which, just four years later in 2014, reached a record high of $35 billion. The WTCNO’s strength is not only its ability to bring together all manner of experts—business and political—but that 75 percent of its members identify as small businesses looking to grow through exports.

Population: 115,070 | Unemployment: 6.3 percent | Closest Port: Peoria International Airport

Peoria really gets the most of what it’s given. Consider that this town of just 115,000 generated $11.2 billion in exports in 2014, ranking second in the state and 27th in the country. One reason is a hyper-organized and driven local economic development council offering myriad programs such as manufacturing networks, STEM enrichment, “economic gardening” and an international trade center which, run from local university Bradley, has helped better than 500 companies expand export sales by more than $400 million.

Population: 1,394,928 | Unemployment: 5.1 percent | Closest Port: Port of San Diego

Business leaders put together the “Global San Diego Export Plan” that details how to grow the city’s economy and create jobs through exports. Fun fact: If you work at a company that exports you will earn, on average, a 10 to 20 percent higher wage. The city also formed a Global Competitiveness Council comprised of key leadership from elected officials and university faculty to move forward on strategies to export all the city has to offer—from its flourishing tech scene to its burgeoning, and delicious, craft beer scene.

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top cities for global trade