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Kentucky ranks No. 2 in exports

BY DAVID ZOELLER dzoeller@paducahsun.com

Kentucky ranks near the bottom nationally in some categories, but exporting is not one of them.

In fact, the commonwealth is No. 2 behind only New Hampshire, members of the Paducah Area Chamber of Commerce were told during Thursday's Power in Partnership breakfast.

"Basically, exporting is the selling of goods and services from one country to another," said Morgan Pierstorff, project manager with the Kentucky Cabinet for Economic Development. "Exporting is a great way to grow your business." The top five Kentucky exports in 2013 involved aerospace, $5.63 billion; automotive, $3.95 billion; automotive parts, $1.6 billion; resins, $1.37 billion; and chemicals, $1.01 billion. The top export growth industries were fish, which increased 361.9 percent; knit apparel, 162.9 percent; poultry/eggs, 134.3 percent; railroad rolling stock, 125.9 percent; and mushrooms, 107.7 percent.

Canada leads the list of countries in 2013 on the receiving end of Kentucky's exports at $1.9 billion in 2013, Pierstorff said. Mexico was second. 

"No matter where you go, folks recognize the Kentucky brand," Pierstorff said. Already in 2014, Kentucky has experienced 8.4 percent export growth, compared to the national average of 2.6 percent.

The Kentucky Export Initiative (KEI) was created by Gov. Steve Beshear to facilitate trade opportunities for Kentucky businesses, according to Pierstorff. The cabinet provides staffing and resources to help KEI partners recognize exporting opportunities.

There are some 125,000 jobs in Kentucky involved in exporting, Pierstorff said. And, that is with only about 5 percent of Kentucky businesses being involved.

Getting involved in exporting can help companies mitigate risk by diversifying markets and can also spur innovation, Pierstorff said. The biggest reason to consider exporting is that 95 percent of global consumers are not in the United States.

Pierstorff acknowledged business people face many demands, and some may feel they do not have the time or know enough about the process. That is where KEI can help, she said.

"We encourage you all to be export advocates," Pierstorff said. "We're here to help push you in the right direction."

Contact David Zoeller, a Paducah Sun staff writer, at 270-575-8676.

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