Go Global KC plan angles for more exports

By Paul Thompson

Northeast News

April 21, 2016

KANSAS CITY, Missouri – Business leaders in Kansas City have created a metropolitan export plan designed to better reach the 95% of global consumers who reside outside of the United States.

Ivry Karamitros is a trade analyst for the World Trade Center of Kansas City, an organization that put together Kansas City’s successful application to join the 28-city Global Cities Initiative (GCI), which aims to create a critical shift in local economic growth strategies. The Kansas City GCI Steering Committee, of which Karamitros is a member, released the Go Global KC Metropolitan Export Plan in April of 2016. The plan aims to increase Kansas City’s exports and bring the metro area’s economy on par with its closest peer cities.

“Exports are really the way of the future. In the next five years, 85% of the all economic growth is going to occur outside of the United States,” said Karamitros during a Northeast Industrial Alliance luncheon on Tuesday, April 19. “Garmin International is a perfect example. Ten years ago, they were a medium-sized enterprise. They decided to go international, and they are now a multi-billion dollar company.”

Following 10 months of research which included surveys and interviews with area businesses and service providers, The GCI Steering Committee uncovered seven key findings surrounding exports in Kansas City: 1) Kansas City’s central location provides a logistical advantage over other U.S. cities interested in increased exports; 2) The majority of businesses (53%) surveyed by the committee do not currently export; 3) Area businesses who do export goods do not prioritize the practice; 4) 75% of Kansas City businesses are either unaware of export services, or do not take advantage of those services; 5) Small and medium-sized businesses present the best opportunities for expansion into the global marketplace; 6) partnerships with local economic development agencies could create export-related jobs and increase income locally; and 7) While Kansas City’s exports have increased by roughly $4.1 billion since 2003, the area still has room to grow compared to peer cities.

“We know that for every $1 billion of trade, that’s 6,000 jobs. Kansas City is at about $10.2 billion in terms of exports; that’s a lot of jobs in Kansas City. We want to increase that, and we don’t want to be below the national average,” said Karamitros. “Really, what this is about is getting the word out. If this is something that you’re company is interested in, just getting them hooked up to the resources that are available in Kansas City.”

In addition to helping area companies increase profits overseas, Karamitros added that the Go Global KC plan could help to grow salaries and create job opportunities right at home.

“We know that companies that export pay their employees 21% higher wages,” she said. “So what does that mean for Kansas City? If you’re making 21% more, you’re probably going to have the ability to have disposable income and buy more things, and that supports more jobs.”

To learn more about Kansas City’s export plan, check out the Kansas City Chamber of Commerce’s web page for the World Trade Center of Kansas City.

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