Wichita, Kansas is a marketing superstar in an area of expertise all of the USA should be striving to reach: net exporting (exporting more goods than they are importing). Wichita’s model offers an example of what our own small and medium businesses could employ to restore the local economy throughout the communities of Northwest Ohio.
Wichita ranked first in export growth from 2003 – 2008 then suffered declines in 2009 and 2010. A Brookings Institution study of Wichita’s exports showed that those exports translated into jobs (22 jobs out of every 100 are export related) and more importantly these jobs paid 10 – 20 percent more than non exporting industries regardless of worker educational level. The area is now gearing up to resume its leadership role in net exporting by marshalling its communities, governments, banks, local colleges and various exporting organizations to work together toward increasing area exports of goods and services.
Northwest Ohio should follow that example. Now is the time to consider exporting. We as Americans cannot ignore globalization and we cannot afford to continue to be net importers of goods and services. Government data predicts that half of all US businesses will be involved with International Trade by 2010. By that time 96 percent of all exports will be sold by small to medium businesses.
Why don’t we lead instead of follow? We have expertise and tools like those available to Wichita. We make high quality goods that are in demand in emerging economies across the world. We have a transportation hub of highways, railways and waterways to supply foreign markets. We have the universities for developmental information and more importantly the community colleges that provide specialized job training to create a high quality work force. We have product knowledge in the glass industry, the petroleum industry, the solar industry, grain production, the tool and die industry and too many others to mention. We have a strong mixture of regional and local banking companies. We have a new political team in Columbus and Washington to help push global exports. What we need is the various area agencies and institutions to work together (as Wichita is doing) to lead Northwest Ohio to prominence in net exporting.
Why would businesses choose to ignore the opportunity to export its products? Many say they are too small or they don’t have the expertise to take on foreign markets and actually most businesses could export regardless of size. To become an exporter a business needs a quality product that can be adapted for a foreign market, flexibility allowing a change in marketing perspective and finally a commitment to trading internationally.
The profit potential is tremendous and the marketing opportunities great. Exporting can create sales growth for a company, extend product life cycles, and offset seasonal production lags. Overall, exporting can benefit entrepreneurs by lowering operating costs and making the company much more profitable and competitive.
It is essential that Northwest Ohio business, government, academic and regional planning leaders work together to seize the opportunities available to our area. A plan must be created to help our businesses and industries in creating a net exporting initiative if we are to become, like Wichita, a leader in our area of the Midwest to produce powerful export growth.