State launches export push

ECD to set up shop in Mexico, Europe and China

The Tennessee Department of Economic Development on Monday announced it will ramp up its efforts to help state companies export their products and services around the world.

Gov. Bill Haslam and Economic and Community Development Commissioner Bill Hagerty said ECD’s international division will open export development offices in Mexico, the United Kingdom, Germany and China. In a statement, they said the move means the state will have overseas offices focused on growing exports for the first time since 1997.

The offices are part of an evolution of the state’s TNTrade program, which was launched in 2011. They will provide export assistance, market analysis and matchmaking services as well as education and networking opportunities. The goal of the state’s new push is to boost exports by 10 percent over the next three years.

“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.”

Another part of the new initiative is the TNTrade Academy, which will, among other things, make grants to a small number of businesses to take part in Belmont University’s Global Business Professional Series.

Tennessee was the country’s 14th-largest exporter in 2011 and has tripled its total export volume in the past decade. State officials said exporting companies employ 80,000 workers around the state.