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Exports in U.S. Foreign-Trade Zones reach record high in 2012, more than double since 2009; Impressive growth also continues in Northeast Ohio's FTZs

September 30, 2013

The Northeast Ohio Trade & Economic Consortium (NEOTEC) reports that Northeast Ohio’s Foreign-Trade Zones 40 and 181 have once again paralleled the national trend of substantial growth in FTZ activity with impressive increases in exports in 2012. The two zones saw a 30.3 percent increase in exports in 2012 from 2011 to a record-high $973.5 million, which far exceeds the 4.3 percent increase in overall U.S. goods exports during the year. FTZs 40 and 181 also reported an overall increase of 7 percent in total merchandise shipped (both foreign and domestic) in 2012. NEOTEC serves as administrator of both zones, which cover more than 11,000 acres at 50 sites throughout the region.

The U.S. Foreign-Trade Zones program has seen exports more than double since 2009, contributing to the National Export Initiative’s goal of doubling exports by 2014.

In its 74th Annual Report to Congress on August 29, 2013, the U.S. Foreign-Trade Zones Board reports that significant growth in U.S. FTZ activity occurred in 2012, with all numbers at a record high. This includes a 28 percent increase in zone exports, with the dollar amount of exports in the zones reaching a record-high $69.9 billion nationwide. The Board also reported a 14 percent increase in merchandise received, and a 9 percent increase in employment in the zones, which is far better than overall U.S. employment growth. More than 370,000 persons now work in one of more than 250 FTZs across the country. In 2012, the number of companies in the zones increased by 14.2 percent to 3,200 different firms.

“The FTZ program has proven itself to be one of the most powerful policy tools for promoting international trade, foreign investment, and the creation of well-paying, sustainable jobs in the private-sector economy,” said Daniel Griswold, President of the National Association of Foreign-Trade Zones in Washington, D.C.

“More and more companies are beginning to recognize the opportunities for cost savings and growth by utilizing the FTZ program,” said Ron DeBarr, President and CEO of NEOTEC. DeBarr said that NEOTEC works through many avenues to educate and inform businesses about the FTZ program, and provides a free, confidential benefits analysis to show companies how significant their savings can be if they apply for FTZ status.

NEOTEC is a nonprofit economic development organization that works to attract business investment in Northeast Ohio by promoting domestic and international trade and strengthening the region’s distinct advantages as a business location. It has served as grantee and administrator of FTZ 181 since 1997—a zone totaling nearly 5,400 acres at 27 sites in 9 counties in Northeast Ohio. Since January 2012, under a partnership agreement with the Cleveland-Cuyahoga County Port Authority, NEOTEC has assumed the duties of zone administrator of FTZ 40 while the Port Authority continues to serve as grantee. Within FTZ 40 there are 23 sites covering nearly 5,900 acres in three Northeast Ohio counties. Together FTZs 40 and 181 create one of the largest and most successful foreign-trade zone programs in the country.

The Cleveland-Cuyahoga County Port Authority operates the Port of Cleveland, a leading gateway for waterborne trade on the Great Lakes/St. Lawrence Seaway System. Nearly 18,000 jobs and $1.8 billion in economic activity result from the roughly 13 million tons of cargo that move through Cleveland Harbor on average each year. The Port also provides innovative financing services for a wide range of development projects in Northeast Ohio, and is leading initiatives to solve critical infrastructure challenges along Cleveland’s waterfronts. For more information, visit the Port website at: www.portofcleveland.com.

In addition to the FTZ program, NEOTEC’s initiatives include the International Trade Assistance Center, which provides basic export counseling assistance and training to area companies; the Global Trade Group, which offers in-depth “executive-in-residence” and one-on-one training services to companies ready to begin exporting or expand their export activity; the Northeast Ohio Logistics Network, which works to improve market access in Northeast Ohio and promote the region’s logistics strengths; and the Global Business Development Initiative, a series of efforts to help attract foreign direct investment to the region.

NEOTEC is located on the campus of Kent State University, which partners with NEOTEC in its economic development efforts. For more information, visit www.neotec.org.