Exports are an important tool for economic development and job creation, which is why the Obama Administration has made increased exports a central pillar of its strategy for economic growth. With the recent launch of NEI/NEXT, the next phase of the successful National Export Initiative, U.S. Secretary of Commerce Pritzker has made it a priority to expand the U.S. export base and to help more American businesses of all sizes – including rural businesses – capitalize on opportunities in foreign markets.
As part of this effort, Secretary Pritzker traveled to Memphis, Tennessee Thursday to participate in the “Made in Rural America” Regional Forum, focused on boosting rural exports. Hosted by the Delta Regional Authority (DRA), the forum convened small business owners, industry representatives, business support organizations, and local, state, and federal leaders to discuss ways to help rural businesses grow and reach the 95% of customers that live outside our borders. Secretary Pritzker participated in an armchair discussion with DRA Federal Co-Chairman Chris Masingill and discussed how we can all work together to enhance opportunities for businesses in rural communities and how we can focus on ways to increase exports from the Delta region’s many businesses. Today’s forum is the second of five regional forums to be held across the country, aimed at helping local businesses integrate exports into their economic growth strategies.
At the Forum, Secretary Pritzker discussed the Commerce Department’s resources to help rural businesses compete in the global marketplace. The Commerce Department’s International Trade Administration (ITA) has trade specialists in more than 100 U.S. cities and over 70 countries worldwide to help companies take advantage of business opportunities abroad and connect them to trade events, foreign buyers, and other partners. In fact, about 85 percent of ITA’s clients are small and medium-sized businesses, and on average 38 percent are rural exporters.
Since the launch of the NEI in 2010, 1.6 million more Americans are earning a paycheck from an export-supported job, bringing the total to 11.3 million jobs – the highest in 20 years.