Guest blog post by Francisco Sánchez , Under Secretary of Commerce for International Trade.
Since the 2012 Olympic Games began, Minnesotans have competed in sports ranging from basketball to fencing, proving that athletes from the North Star State can succeed on the global stage. The same can be said for Minnesota’s businesses.
Yesterday, I visited Minneapolis to meet with Congressman Keith Ellison, Mayor R.T. Rybak and business and community leaders. It was a great opportunity to see and hear firsthand how local entrepreneurs are designing and manufacturing quality products that are being exported all over the world.
For instance, I had the pleasure of visiting Accent Signage Systems , a small manufacturing company. A pioneer in innovative sign technology, Accent Signage is experiencing the direct benefits of exporting and has plans to increase its workforce by 25 percent in the near future. This is a gleaming example of a business that is successfully competing abroad, and, in doing so, is making a positive impact here at home.
Stories like this are occurring throughout the Minneapolis region. The Minneapolis metropolitan area was the 9th largest export market  (PDF) in the United States in 2010. This success translates into jobs, because stronger businesses are more likely to expand and hire workers.
That’s why the National Export Initiative, which aims to double U.S. exports by the end of 2014, is such an important effort. When exports increase, so too does the benefits experienced by businesses and communities. Just last year, the United States economy saw a record-setting $2.1 trillion in exports, which supported nearly 10 million American jobs.
If we want to these numbers to rise, it’s imperative that American businesses know the Department of Commerce has resources to help them. Earlier this year we launched the “Build it Here, Sell it Everywhere: Commerce Comes to your Town” initiative to raise awareness about the resources available to help existing and potential exporters—with a clear focus on manufacturers.
Why manufacturers? Because manufacturing is responsible for much of America’s competitive edge on the world market. For instance, manufacturing is responsible for 70 percent of private sector research and development and 90 percent of patents—two of the most important investments to make for the future of our economy. And when you combine manufacturing and exporting, you get jobs. In fact, according to the latest data, nearly one-fifth of all manufacturing workers  (PDF) in Minnesota depended on exports for their jobs.
As the Under Secretary for International Trade, I have spent much of this year talking with leaders in important export and manufacturing hubs and spreading the word about the resources that Commerce’s International Trade Administration  (ITA) has to offer exporters.
International trade relationships can generate incredible economic value. These partnerships not only bring profits and support jobs, but also spur innovation and help American companies maintain their global competitiveness.
And ITA is committed to promoting trade and exports throughout America. The resources and expertise at our disposal can be invaluable to existing and potential exporters.
So reach out to us, and we’ll help you in any way we can.