July 2, 2012

Cover Story

Built to Lead

Perhaps no Utah governor in modern memory comes to the office with a broad...Read More

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GOED's Toolbox

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Derek B. Miller

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Going Global

Utah Programs Give Companies a Leg Up in Exporting

Di Lewis

July 2, 2012

Having a government employee making introductions confers a seal of approval that can really open doors, Card says. It provides credibility to the relationship that wouldn’t otherwise be there.

Especially in the early days of exporting, having help from groups like GOED or WTC Utah can be invaluable in finding distributors and other international support, says Richard Hendrickson, President of Lifetime Products. “Those first few steps, those first few contacts—it’s really important that you do your homework.”

Hendrickson praises the Governor’s office, saying during all the decades Lifetime Products has been in business, Utah governors have been very helpful. Not only do they provide encouragement and incentives for businesses to be in Utah, they are very willing to work diplomatically for companies.

“There’s always been a focus on and commitment to international trade,” Kolb says. “How many states have a governor that becomes ambassador to China?” But former Gov. Jon Huntsman is not the only one with an eye abroad. Kolb says all the Utah governors have understood the importance of exports and supported the work by doing things like trade missions.

Trade missions can be an invaluable asset for companies, Rovira says. “We do focused trade missions with a small enough scope that companies get the benefit.”

Positioned for Success
Utah has used its strong foundation and many export resources to set the stage for future growth. The State has more than doubled exports from $6.8 billion in 2006 to $13.57 billion in 2010. Kolb says one of the reasons Utah was successful when other states struggled was because it was strongly positioned for international business.

The hard work and pro-business planning is paying off. In 2011, Utah had its best year yet with nearly $19 billion in exports. It helps that Utah’s primary exports are in industries that are growing in price or demand.

“Our number one export sector for 120 years is primary metals—gold, molybdenum, copper—and the price is going up. And the second-leading export is high-tech products. That’s our fastest-growing area and that’s where we think our real growth will be,” Cramer says.

Utah’s exports “come from mines and minds,” he says, adding that the State’s support of tech companies is setting the State up for even greater growth in a global market.

Take the Plunge
It can be intimidating for companies to consider entering the international arena. The expense, knowledge gap and regulatory hurdles can make anybody second-guess the effort. But by making a solid plan, investigating overseas markets, asking for help and making sure the dedication is there, exporting doesn’t have to be cause for worry.

Businesses can’t see exports as just gravy, says Rovira. They have to have a solid international business plan that comes from the management level and is grounded in realistic expectations.

However, because of the help available from public and private organizations, strong government support of business, and the many advantages the State offers, the future of Utah exports is golden.

Foreign Direct Investment
In addition to sending its resources abroad, Utah has also been the recipient of international investments. The state has seen the benefit of foreign direct investment, which is a physical investment, such as factories, mines or land, from a foreign country.

The U.S. is the world’s largest recipient of foreign direct investment, totaling $194 billion in 2010. By globalizing the economy, the United States strengthens international ties and diversifies the economy.

Utah’s economy gets the same advantage. Like London-based Rio Tinto, foreign companies with investments in the state bring high-paying jobs and more international trade, says Franz Kolb, Regional Director of International Trade and Diplomacy for the Governor’s Office of Economic Development (GOED).

The influx of jobs and payroll from foreign businesses are not only helpful because they directly bring money and jobs. Foreign direct investment also has the added benefit of increasing U.S. exports because of better access to multinational distribution networks, he says.

Utah Export Dollars
1. United Kingdom $6,639,279,833
2. Greater China (Hong Kong, Taiwan, China, Macau) $5,022,483,904
3. Canada $1,346,271,066
4. Thailand $707,597,555
5. Singapore $570,284,690
6. India $565,822,979
7. Mexico $515,518,262
8. Australia $494,038,953
9. Japan $407,849,244
10. Germany $283,372,553

Utah Merchandise Exports (in billions)
2000 $3.22
2001 $3.50
2002 $4.54
2003 $4.12
2004 $4.73
2005 $6.07
2006 $6.80
2007 $7.81
2008 $10.31
2009 $10.34
2010 $13.81
2011 $18.93

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