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Business North - The Daily Briefing - Business Newspaper Online
DEED commissioner promotes Dayton's trade initiative
PHOTO: Katie Clark Sieben
Minnesota set a foreign trade record for the second consecutive year, DEED Commissioner Katie Clark Sieben said Friday in Duluth, reaching $20.6 billion.
“The Port of Duluth-Superior greatly contributes to our exports around the world, but also allows for an opportunity for outside investment to come into the state,” she said. Statewide, it fueled 115,000 jobs last year.
Duluth Mayor Don Ness, Port Authority Executive Director Adolph Ojard and Cirrus Design CEO Dale Klapmeier also addressed the impact of exports.
“Over our history, we have exported about 25 percent of our products,” said Klapmeier, a co-founder of Cirrus. “Last year, 44 percent of everything we built went overseas. It’s an extremely important factor in our growth.”
“Trade is an integral component to the region,” said Ojard, noting that 1.5 million tons of taconite is expected to be exported overseas during the current maritime shipping season. “At $100 a ton, we’re talking about significant amounts of money.”
He challenged Clark Sieben to view Duluth as an export hub for a four-state region.
“A trans-load intermodal hub within this region has a tremendous opportunity. If we put that in there, there’s hope we could reduce the cost of doing business,” Ojard said.
“Job growth in the city of Duluth is directly tied to growth in the export market,” Ness , citing H&H Exports as an example of a strong local exporter. The firm sells ball bearings to all but one continent worldwide. “It’s important we have (trade) relationships with the state of Minnesota and our federal partners.
A third of Minnesota exports go to Canada, accounting for $6 billion in sales, or 29 percent of total state exports last year. Other major customers are China ($2.5 billion), Mexico ($1.3 billion), Japan ($1.2 billion) and Germany ($728 million), Clark Sieben said.
To keep Minnesota exports growing and the state competitive around the world, Sieben said it's important for the Legislature to approve Gov. Mark Dayton's Minnesota Global Competitiveness Initiative, DEED said in a press release. The measure is a $1.5 million package designed to increase exports and foreign direct investment in the state.
The initiative, which would be led by DEED's Minnesota Trade Office, includes $540,000 to open three new offices in key foreign markets yet to be determined. The state currently has only one overseas trade office located in Shanghai, China.
Another piece of the governor's initiative is $600,000 for the Minnesota STEP program, which makes grants available to small businesses that want to begin exporting or expand exports to other markets. Under the program, small businesses can apply for up to $7,500 in reimbursement for approved export development activities.
Trade missions also are a part of the state's strategy to encourage export growth and more foreign direct investment, with the governor scheduled to lead a trade mission to Germany, Sweden and Norway on June 12-21.
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