Tennessee is opening four offices abroad in efforts to expand the state’s exports of products and services, which already total $30 billion annually, according to the Tennessean. Export development offices are being set up in China, Mexico, Germany and the United Kingdom with the goal of increasing the state’s exports by 10 percent — or $3 billion — over the next three years, said Bill Hagerty, commissioner of the Department of Economic and Community Development.
The initiative will be led by the department’s International Division, and it will be the first time since 1997 that the state has operated offices abroad “solely dedicated to advancing Tennessee exports,” the department said in an announcement.
In picking the four countries for the export initiative, “We basically just ran the math and put them where the largest flow (of Tennessee exports) exists today,” Hagerty said. The office in Germany will serve the entire European Union.
News release from Department of Economic and Community Development:
NASHVILLE – The Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development announced today that the department will lead a trade mission to Mexico City July 17-20, 2012 that will focus on Tennessee’s automotive manufacturers. Applications are due June 1, 2012 and are available at tn.gov/ecd/tntrade/trademission. The trade mission is part of the recently announced TNTrade, ECD’s initiative designed to help boost exports by Tennessee’s small- and medium-sized businesses.
“The TNTrade program was designed to increase exports of Tennessee-made goods and services and help identify new customers and markets for companies in our state,” ECD Commissioner Bill Hagerty said. “Fewer than 2 percent of Tennessee companies are exporting, and we are working to increase that statistic. The Mexico trade mission will provide an excellent opportunity for Tennessee automotive companies to form new relationships and begin or grow their export efforts.”
News release from Vanderbilt University:
NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Mexican-operated manufacturing facilities and other businesses employed more than 1,000 workers in Tennessee in 2010, according to a recent study by Vanderbilt’s Center for Latin American Studies.
The largest concentration of employees was in the automotive sector in rural Middle Tennessee and the Cumberland Plateau, with other clusters in the service sector around Knoxville and Memphis.
“Many Americans think of Mexico in relationship to immigration controversies and as a source of cheap and illegal labor,” said Jane Landers, the Gertrude Conaway Vanderbilt Professor of History and the center’s interim director. “This study shows the significant and growing capital investment by Mexican multinationals in Tennessee alongside that of companies from Japan, Germany and Canada.”
The report, “Mexican Investment in Tennessee: A Preliminary Study,” is co-authored by Edward Fischer, professor of anthropology at Vanderbilt; Mateo A. Perez-Rodriguez, an economist and alumnus of Vanderbilt’s Graduate Program In Economic Development; and Lawrence Harrington, an attorney who is affiliated with the Center for Latin American Studies.
Their study suggests that a key to bringing more jobs to Tennessee might lie in recruiting investment from emerging markets such Mexico, rather than traditional sources such as Japan, Canada and Europe. They noted that Mexican businesses in Tennessee employ several times as many workers as companies from the People’s Republic of China.
While the presence of Mexican investment in Tennessee may come as a surprise to some observers, the study found that investment from Mexico in the United States has increased dramatically since the start of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) in 1994 and doubled between 2005 and 2009. Tennessee exports to Mexico have increased more than 400 percent since 1995.
The researchers stress that their figures are very conservative and that actual Mexican investment and the number of Tennessee workers employed is likely much greater than they were able to document. The report’s data was taken from business websites and the Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development. Additional research is required to document the full impact of Mexican foreign direct investment.
The report did not include such recent developments as Grupo Bimbo’s acquisition of Sara Lee bakeries in the United States, including a Knoxville facility, which significantly increased the number of U.S. workers employed by Mexican multinationals. Nor did the report attempt to measure investment in small business by Mexicans in Tennessee.
Vanderbilt’s Center for Latin American Studies Occasional Paper No. 11, is available at http://www.vanderbilt.edu/clas/cms/wp-content/uploads/Mexican_Foreign_Direct_Investment_in_TennesseeFINAL.pdf
The Center for Latin American Studies is a federally designated National Resource Center for Latin America. The center’s outreach program extends to public schools, local businesses and government agencies. For more information, visit www.vanderbilt.edu/clas