Wichita area companies generated $24 million in new exports in 2016, an outcome of the Wichita Regional Export Plan.
The results are the product of a $500,000 investment of public and private funding during the early stages of the five-year plan, according to Kansas Global Trade Services, a Wichita-based non-profit organization dedicated to promoting and facilitating international trade.
The five-year Regional Export Plan was initiated in 2015 and is a collaboration among Kansas Global, numerous public/ private partners in the 10-county region and the Global Cities Initiative, a joint project of the Brookings Institution and JPMorgan Chase.
A major contributor to the export totals came from the Export Grant Accelerator Grant program, a $100,000 pool of funds provided by JP Morgan Chase and several local government bodies. It is designed to encourage area businesses to explore international markets.
Under the grant program, seven companies reported new exports totaling $16.8 million, a direct result of $55,000 in grant fund reimbursements. Companies use the grant funding for eligible costs such as market research, web site translation, trade show activity and regulatory issues.
Additional results are expected to be reported later by the remainder of the 20 companies who qualified for $85,000 of the grant pool. The remaining $15,000 is still available for additional grants.
Karyn Page, CEO and president of Kansas Global, emphasized that the newly reported results are based on actual dollar amounts reported by the companies.
“This isn’t an extrapolation based on our estimates or projections,” she said. “This is hard data based on real companies successfully exporting more great products.”
The report provides solid validation of the community’s decision to focus on international trade as a primary economic development strategy, Page said.
“Our community leaders are demonstrating to the entire country how an integrated plan relying on local, state and private resources and talent is essential to economic growth,” she said.
The Export Plan success was also acknowledged by JP Morgan Chase and the Brookings Institution.
“International trade promotes local economic growth, generates new paths to job creation, and builds stronger cities where more people can prosper,” said David Page, regional manager for JPMorgan Chase. “We’re proud to be supporting Wichita’s efforts to be more globally engaged.”
Marek Gootman, Brookings Institution fellow, shared a similar response.
“These results reaffirm the economic benefits of regional business and government leaders pursuing a shared strategy that inspires more local firms to export and helps them overcome challenges,” Gootman said. “After working with dozens of U.S. and international metro areas over the past five years, we consider Greater Wichita’s effort a strong example of how to take advantage of trade, rather than be taken advantage of by the globalized marketplace.”
The regional export plan is funded by local governments, and also is integrated with state dollars from the Kansas Department of Commerce that fund a statewide export promotion contract with Kansas Global.
The export plan results are consistent with a recent national report that highlighted the area’s trade performance. The Wichita economy showed a 6.8 percent increase in exports in 2015, ranking it 3rd among the top 100 metropolitan areas in the nation. That information came from the “Export Monitor” report by the Brookings Institution, a national think tank and leading source on trade issues.
South-central Kansas generated $6.87 billion in exports in 2015, nearly 50 percent of the state’s total.
The leading categories of exports in the Wichita region include transportation equipment, machinery manufacturing, agriculture, petroleum and coal products and chemical manufacturing.