Robust trade in Georgia

Trade in Georgia is on the rise as the U.S. economy rebounds.

In 2012, Georgia experienced a record year for both exports and imports. With more than $35.9 billion in goods exported to 233 countries and territories, our state ranked 12th in the nation for exports. Georgia led the U.S. in exports of poultry, chemical wood pulp, cotton, Kraft paper and paperboard, carpet, kaolin and peanuts. We also imported more than $72.4 billion in goods and services.

Why is trade so robust?

It certainly helps that companies can get their products and services to market quickly. Our logistics system includes the world’s busiest and most efficient passenger airport, the fourth-largest and fastest-growing deep-water port in the U.S., and an extensive surface transportation network. In addition, companies are increasingly engaging in trade. Federal grants have enabled the state’s International Trade Division to ramp up the level of free and low-cost services it offers Georgia taxpayers.

In addition, more and more Georgia businesses are discovering the benefits of exporting products and services around the world. Companies that export are 20 percent more likely to grow faster and are 9 percent less likely to go out of business. That’s because exports help increase sales, which, in turn, lower production costs and increase profits.

Exporting to new markets expands product life cycle and brings global market intelligence to a business. In today’s market, businesses are looking for a stable environment and job security. International trade can help diversify a business and reduce risks.

Exports also contribute to the community and state economy. According to the U.S. Department of Commerce, they create twice as many jobs as domestic trade. For every job created in making a product, another job is created to get that product to market. Additionally, employees of exporting firms generally make 13 to 18 percent higher wages than those of firms that don’t export.

The mission of the Georgia Department of Economic Development is to create jobs in Georgia. Our international trade division does that by helping small and medium-sized companies export products. Companies we assist include, but are not limited to, agricultural companies, manufacturers, and assembly, research and development, distribution and headquarters operations. We can help Georgia companies research markets, find buyers, participate in trade shows and access customized services, all at no or reduced cost.

Last year, our trade team helped 1,308 companies close more than 400 deals, a 33-percent increase over the previous year, thanks in part to a generous State Trade and Export Promotion (STEP) grant from the U.S. Small Business Administration.

If you’re a small business owner in Georgia, there’s no better time than now to take advantage of your taxpayer dollars at work. Find out how international trade can take your company to the next level.

Kathe Falls is division director of international trade for the Georgia Department of Economic Development.

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