Indiana’s exports are growing at a faster rate than the national average. But a new report suggests many small and medium-sized Hoosier companies aren’t reaching their international potential.
Indiana’s large automotive and steel manufacturing industries are star players when it comes to exporting. But an Indiana Business Research Center report shows these sectors have more work to do before fully establishing themselves in the global economy.
The report says many manufacturers have moved into more familiar countries such as Canada and Mexico and business hot spots like India and China. But they’re not as present in many other parts of the globe. The center’s Director of Economic Analysis Tim Slaper says that lack of diversity poses challenges.
“As India and China and Brazil are losing steam in terms of their economic growth, they’re not gonna be importing as much goods and services from the U.S., particularly from Indiana,” Slaper says.
The report makes specific recommendations for small and medium-sized companies.
“We’re talking about companies that are fairly small that are having a tough time keeping their heads above water and really don’t have time to think about how to expand to markets in places where they don’t speak our language,” Slaper says.
The U.S. Department of Commerce helps small companies break into new markets. Spokesman Mark Cooper says he’s worked with everyone from ping pong table makers to sunglass manufacturers.
“You don’t have to be in the biggest sectors, but you do have to have a comparative advantage and something to offer,” Cooper says.
Cooper says foreign customers want U.S. products, but companies need to think big to get their products overseas.