Editorial: Selling the state

Governor's new world marketing strategy should pay off
Feb. 12, 2013 @ 11:44 PM

Gov. Bill Haslam’s efforts to sell Tennessee around the world come at a time when the state is looking to boost the local economy and when goods made in Tennessee can and should be marketed abroad.

Haslam and Economic and Community Development Commissioner Bill Hagerty announced on Monday a strategy focused on increasing the exports of Tennessee goods to markets around the world.The initiative includes new export development offices in Mexico, the United Kingdom, Germany and China. Haslam said it’s the first time since 1997 that Tennessee has had overseas offices dedicated to promoting Tennessee exports.

“Almost 20 percent of all Tennessee workers depend on the manufacture and sale of exported goods for their jobs,” the governor said. “Tennessee-made goods are known the world over for their quality and dependability, and a new export strategy will continue to help us meet our goal of becoming the No. 1 state in the Southeast for high quality jobs.”

“When facing an uncertain global economy, it is imperative that Tennessee businesses take steps to access both untapped markets and those exhibiting an increase in purchasing power due to fluctuating currency rates,” Hagerty said. “The state’s economy is more connected to the global economy than ever before, and we are excited to roll out new initiatives to help educate and open doors for Tennessee companies.”

According to figures supplied by the state, during the last decade, Tennessee’s total export volume has more than tripled. More than 6,400 Tennessee businesses employing 80,000 workers sold nearly $30 billion worth of state products around the world in 2011, ranking Tennessee the 14th largest exporting state in the U.S. That is remarkable, but it could and should be better.

Overseas buyers are looking to invest in America, and will be more likely to do so when interests in the United States come after their money. The new offices in the four locations will boost such exposure and give the state an advantage in selling what we make here.

Export development offices will help Tennessee small- and medium-size businesses to learn exporting. Free services will be offered, including business intelligence, market analysis, sales and marketing planning, identification of distribution partners and service providers, and company matchmaking.There should be no reason a Tennessee manufacturer or producer of goods and produce shouldn’t find assistance when seeking new markets.

Let’s hope the effort pays off.