Guest blog post by Francisco Sánchez , Under Secretary for International Trade, International Trade Administration
From Los Angeles to Las Vegas and Albuquerque to Walnut Creek, I spent last week traversing the Southwestern United States talking to small businesses, textile manufacturers, exporters and rural communities about the positive impact exporting has on our economic stability and potential to put people back to work.
During this trip, I met with leaders from more than 150 businesses to discuss President Obama’s National Export Initiative  and how important it is for small- and medium-sized businesses to expand their markets through exporting. I also reinforced the importance of leveraging the public-private partnerships that will foster investment, support communities and assist rural businesses to succeed, expand and create jobs.
In New Mexico, I spoke to businesses about the importance of the APEC  economies, which have generated nearly 200 million new jobs and 70 percent of overall global economic growth during the past decade. APEC members increasingly represent the global economy of the 21st century. During my stay in Las Vegas, I highlighted the importance of sourcing within the Western Hemisphere to U.S. textile producers, brands and retailers, and industry leaders. We hosted the first ever “Sourcing in the Americas” pavilion and summit, which brought together U.S. textile and apparel brands with domestic manufacturers to discuss opportunities to source products in the Western Hemisphere. The U.S. textile industry remains a critical part of our national workforce and economy despite increased global competition. With nearly 600,000 workers and more than $50 billion in exports last year, the industry is one of our nation’s largest manufacturing employers.
While in Colorado, I had the good fortune to meet with LEC Global  and present them with an Export Achievement Certificate  recognizing their success in exporting their products to Latin America. LEC Global designs, manufactures and installs lighting protection, grounding, and surge protection equipment for industrial applications. They received their first order from Petrobras, Brazil’s national oil company in July of this year. They are providing a good model for other companies to follow in expanding their sales into new markets.
And finally, during my last visit in Walnut Creek, California, I met with congressional leaders to discuss the importance of exporting and how small-and mid-size companies can grow and prosper through exports. We talked about the importance of the pending free trade agreements with Panama, Colombia and South Korea and how nearly 35 percent of California’s 2010 exports were to countries with which the United States has a free trade agreement. Exports from California to one free trade agreement partner, Chile, have increased 272 percent since that trade agreement was enacted in 2004.
It was a long, productive and invigorating trip. I am always eager to talk about the benefits of trade and exporting to our communities of small businesses who can prosper and expand through selling to the 95 percent of global consumers who live outside of the United States.