Growing the state's export business
A commentary by Rebecca Kleefisch, Wisconsin's lieutenant governor.
Each day, our world is being shaped by the demands of a modernized, global economy. States seek to expand beyond the U.S. border and satisfy a developing international middle class.
With support from the Wisconsin Economic Development Corp., Wisconsin set a record in 2012: $23.1 billion in valued exports to more than 200 countries.
The world is discovering something we in Wisconsin have long known: Our state is a leader in the production of high-quality manufactured and agricultural exports.
Using our state's unique industries and supply chain in international competition puts us in a terrific place to secure jobs, drive industry and create a global reputation.
Industrial machinery manufacturing and agricultural production account for almost half of Wisconsin's total exports.
Wisconsin's' industrial machinery industry ranked eighth among the 50 states in exports and experienced a 6.3 percent increase in 2011, while the state's agricultural production ranked 13th and totaled $162 billion in 2012, an increase of 3.1 percent from 2010.
Along with electrical machinery, medical and scientific instruments, furniture, paper products and plastic, Wisconsin exports increased by over $1 billion in 2012. Not only has this put Wisconsin on the international stage; continued foreign relationships have created jobs here.
Wisconsin's top export markets - Canada, Mexico, China and Australia - are also heavily invested in Wisconsin's economy and success.
In 2010, foreign-controlled companies employed 76,000 Wisconsin workers. And despite a devastating recession, foreign investment continued to be responsible for 3.3 percent of Wisconsin's total private-industry employment.
Exports are also fueling our small business community with more than one-quarter of Wisconsin's total exports coming from small and medium-sized businesses with fewer than 500 employees in 2010.
The Wisconsin Economic Development Corp. has been instrumental in helping Wisconsin companies grow their export businesses.
With a dedicated team of market development professionals who identify the needs of the global economy, Wisconsin businesses are provided insight on how to develop market-specific strategies in foreign markets.
Our administration believes in growing business, not government. The WEDC promotes this by bringing businesses together, domestically and internationally to benefit the hardworking folks of Wisconsin.
This week, Gov. Scott Walker is connecting Wisconsin companies with business opportunities in China on an economic development mission. China is our third-largest marketplace for exports, but the governor's trip will also raise awareness about Wisconsin's capacity and strength in the international community.
Accompanied by representatives from economic agencies, businesses and agriculture, the governor will keep an aggressive schedule of relationship building to help our private-sector partners pursue international sales and success.
Last year, Wisconsin set a record in export production and now ranks 18th among the 50 states in exports. Despite a tough economy, Wisconsin has established itself as a state willing to make real reforms to generate international business and stay competitive in any marketplace.
Wisconsin's competitive export strategy of today is a secure path to economic growth and a clear way to feed and supply the world.