Coming in second makes Florida proud, especially when that ranking refers to export intensity in the United States. Florida has the second-highest level of exports as a share of total manufactured goods, according to the National Association of Manufacturers. Eighty-five percent of Florida's exports are manufactured goods.
Ranking just below California, Florida is home to more than 55,000 companies that export and accounts for 20% of all exporters in the United States. The state ranks No. 4 in the nation for state-origin exports. In 2011 Florida racked up $64.8 billion in origin exports. "Our success in helping more companies understand the value of, and engage in, international trade positions Florida to double its exports by 2014 from 2009 levels," says Manny Mencía, senior vice president of Enterprise Florida's international business division.
Florida exported $14 billion of manufactured goods to free trade agreement partner countries in 2010. The top five countries were Brazil (10%), Venezuela (7%), Canada (7%), Colombia (5%) and Mexico (4%).
Earlier this year, Teledyne Oil and Gas, a supplier of fiber optic, electric and high-power interconnect technology for the subsea oil and gas industries, chose Florida to construct an R&D center as part of its overall strategic goal to help bolster international sales. "We continued our emphasis on higher margin industrial growth markets, and also increased our global presence," CEO Robert Mehrabian explained in a report on first-quarter results.
Teledyne Oil and Gas is a division of $1.9 billion Teledyne Technologies Inc. (IW 500/359), representing some of the larger manufacturers operating in Florida. But small businesses also have a critical role in bolstering exports as they comprise 96% of Florida's exporters. Florida's small and midsize companies account for 67% of the state's total origin exports compared with a national average of 33%.
To help small businesses in their export-growth strategies, Enterprise Florida, a public-private economic development partnership, provides tactical advice. "As a small business you have limited resources, and you have to choose where you're going to have the greatest impact," says Marla Buchanan, vice president of organic fertilizer producer Green Technologies LLC. "The Export Marketing Plan tied us into additional resources we didn't even know were available."
Enterprise Florida also provides grants to companies with 500 or fewer employees to help them increase sales and promotional opportunities through participation in international trade missions and trade shows
One of the state's export strengths is in high-tech where it ranks third, after Texas and California. High-tech exports reached $16.4 billion last year, accounting for 7.1% of all U.S. high-tech exports. From 2006-2011 the value of these exports increased by 34.7%, a much larger increase than the 5.1% growth national average.
Trade flows on both sides as merchandise trade valued at $149 billion moved through Florida's airports and seaports in 2011, making the state one of the world's leaders in international trade. In fact, the region ranks sixth nationally in employment by majority foreign-owned firms, attesting to its ability to attract foreign direct investment.
One company based in Germany, 2G Energy AG, recently created a new division, 2G Manufacturing Inc. and will build a plant in St. Augustine to produce its combined heat and power clean-energy power-generation systems.
To further facilitate international opportunities, Florida Gov. Rick Scott recently signed two bills that provide investment in transportation projects, including deepwater sea ports. The state hopes to benefit from international trade expected from the expansion of the Panama Canal, ratified free trade agreements and the growing economies of Central and South America.
"Well over 1 million Florida jobs rely on international business, and along with international investment, it accounted for about one-sixth of Florida's economy last year," said Scott.