Guest blog post by Francisco Sánchez , Under Secretary of Commerce for International Trade
“We should remember that today’s world presents not just dangers, not just threats—it presents opportunity.” This statement from President Obama’s State of the Union speech  confirms the belief that free trade and open markets are a benefit in our globalized world.
In Louisville, Ky., this belief is nothing new, as the town has been growing its economy by focusing on exporting to foreign markets.
That is why I joined Mayor Greg Fischer in Louisville to sign a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between the International Trade Administration (ITA) and the City of Louisville in a team effort to improve local exports. Congressman John Yarmuth (KY-3) also joined us to celebrate this exciting new partnership and highlight what this means for the community.
Our new MOU extends the success we have seen through the Bluegrass Economic Advancement Movement  (BEAM), a joint venture between the mayors of Louisville and Lexington, designed to support the growth of high-quality jobs in advanced manufacturing throughout a 22-county region.
BEAM is a particularly exceptional achievement because it is the realization of the National Export Initiative  (NEI) localized through the Brookings Institute’s Metropolitan Export Initiative (MEI). It represents a way in which cities and towns can engage in international trade to reap the benefits of increased exports.
Together, these initiatives are all working in concert to increase U.S. exports.
And there is no better place to talk exports than Kentucky .
Kentucky depends heavily on manufacturing, such as civilian aircraft, engines, and parts. In fact, 96 percent of Kentucky’s $19.3 billion in exports in 2010 came from manufacturing. These numbers continued to grow through 2012–and the growth rate ranks Kentucky 11th among other states in 2012–which is extremely impressive.
Kentucky is also a great example of how the NEI and our efforts here at the International Trade Administration are helping the U.S. compete in manufacturing as we focus on bringing manufacturing back to the States and selling our products abroad.
This was my first time in Louisville, but after seeing the enthusiasm for exporting from smaller businesses like Universal Woods to larger companies like UPS, I am already looking forward to coming back and supporting Kentucky’s exciting export growth.