Take a look at Duluth’s bustling Lake Superior port facilities and one thing quickly becomes clear: Exports are a big deal here, creating jobs and generating millions of dollars in economic activity in northeastern Minnesota.
That’s why DEED Commissioner Katie Clark Sieben joined Mayor Don Ness and other officials in Duluth today to talk about Minnesota exports. Exports are vitally important for the Duluth economy, but they also matter for the whole state, the commissioner said.
The Minnesota manufacturing sector alone derives roughly 20 percent of its employment – an estimated 57,100 jobs – from exports, according to the U.S. Department of Commerce. All told, the agency estimates manufacturing exports account for about 115,000 jobs in all industrial sectors in Minnesota, including trucking, logistics, and marketing and sales.
State exports hit a record $20.6 billion in 2012, with machinery topping all categories with $4 billion in sales. Other major exports are optic, medical instruments ($3.1 billion), electrical machinery ($2.5 billion), vehicles ($1.9 billion) and plastic ($1 billion). Canada is the state’s biggest market, accounting for $6 billion in sales, followed by China ($2.5 billion), Mexico ($1.3 billion), Japan ($1.2 billion) and Germany ($728 million).
In remarks during an event at the Duluth Entertainment Convention Center, Commissioner Sieben said Gov. Mark Dayton’s Minnesota Global Competitiveness Initiative will help build on the state’s recent success in exports. The $1.5 million initiative, which still needs legislative approval, includes funding for opening three more foreign trade offices, helping small businesses begin or expand their export programs, and launching a marketing campaign overseas to encourage foreign direct investment in the state. Today’s event also featured four Duluth companies that have found success by exporting their products: Cirrus Aircraft, H&H Exports, Ikonics and Intectural, Epicurean/Loll Designs.