Guest Column: International Trade in Northwest Florida
Spring 2013 E-News
International trade -- one of Florida's strongest sectors in 2011, with export levels reaching an all-time high of $64.8 billion -- remained strong in 2012. In fact, Florida continues to have the highest trade surplus among all states and is on track with its five-year goal to double exports by the end of 2014.
Northwest Florida commands a relatively small slice of the Sunshine State's export pie. While the area is home to four of Florida's 20 metropolitan statistical areas, or MSA's, and three of the state's 15 deepwater ports, it has lower industry density than most other regions in the state. Eight of its 16 counties are classified as rural, i.e., they have less population and infrastructure and are home to fewer companies than their more urbanized counterparts.
Even so, Northwest Florida had the largest export growth increase from 2010-2011 by 38.8 percent. The Pensacola-Ferry Pass-Brent MSA, which includes Escambia and Santa Rosa Counties, recently distinguished itself as being Florida's fifth largest MSA in exporting, with export volume amounting to $1.3 billion and sporting the highest MSA export growth in the state. Its export volume rose by $142.2 percent between 2007 and 2011.
When it comes to commanding column inches in the local paper or time on the local airwaves, attracting job-producing projects to a community tends to generate more interest than organic growth .
But many of my export clients have repeatedly said during the recent economic downturn that, "If it wasn't for international sales, we would have been hurting or would have had to let people go." In other words, increased revenue from export sales helps retain and create jobs, too. Throughout Northwest Florida, the territory I service, more and more very small, often family-run businesses are starting to look beyond state and U.S. borders for customers. And Enterprise Florida, a recent recipient of a State Trade and Export Promotion or STEP grant from the U.S. Department of Labor, is standing by to assist companies that wish to "go global."
Florida's Export Sector
- The National Association of Manufacturers reports that from 2000 - 2008, 100 percent of Florida's growth in manufacturing shipments came from exports as domestic shipments declined.
- More than 55,000 Florida companies export, accounting for 20 percent of all U.S. exporters (second only to California).
- The number of Florida exporters has grown by 76 percent since 2003, rising from 31,400 to more than 55,000 in 2009.
- More than 95 percent of Florida exporters are small and medium-sized enterprises or SMEs, with 500 or fewer employees.
- SMEs accounted for 67 percent of Florida exports in 2009. This is the highestfigure among the 50 states and is much higher than the U.S. average of 33 percent.
To learn more about international trade services offered by Enterprise Florida and to receive a copy of the full report of Florida's 2011 Metropolitan Statistical Area Exports to the World, please email Andrea Moore at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Regional Manager, International Trade Development
- Santa Rosa County currently has 18 active projects. Sixteen are manufacturing or logistics related. Two of the projects are looking at the Gulf Breeze area, 15 at the Santa Rosa Industrial Park,and one at the Northwest Florida @ I-10 park. Three of the 18 active projects are expansions of companies already located in the area. Notable projects include:
- Project Breeze - 200 jobs above average wage, a manufacturing company of housing for overseas market
- Project Gold Rush - a distribution company with 250 jobs
- Project Training Day - training center providing 15-20 jobs
- Project Sierra - a manufacturing company with 50 jobs
- Project Forge - a manufacturing company from the northeast that has the potential of over 200 jobs.
- At this time, no customer contact centers have expressed an interest in the former Clearwire facility. This is in stark contrast to a few months ago, when there were five companies looking at the facility. Companies stated that there were several factors in not choosing Santa Rosa including purchasing a competitor and utilizing that location, not receiving a contract from their customer, and incentive packages not as lucrative as other states are able to offer.
- There are five projects with pending contracts or application with the University of West Florida for the Industry Recruitment Retention Fund Grant. Combined, the five projects represent approximately 350 jobs and grant funding of over $3.5 million. Announcements will be made as the contracts are finalized and signed.
Commissioners approved the contract with KontactIntelligence out of Pensacola on Jan.10 for executive search services to assist in the selection of an economic development director. The deadline for applications was March 1. The county is reviewing the 48 applications received with a target of having the director in place in May.
- Sequestration became effective March 1. It eliminates some $450 billion from the defense budget over the next 10 years. The primary effect anticipated at NAS Whiting Field is a freeze on all civilian hiring, elimination of all travel and a reduction in base maintenance funds. The NASWF Commanding Officer does not foresee a reduction of flying hours or student pilot throughput at this point.
- The Air Force has indicated it will be requesting another BRAC round should Air Force budgets be slashed. Should congress agree, expect another BRAC in 2015-2017 time frame.
- There will be a planned change of command at Training Air Wing Five in March 2013. Commodore James Grace will relinquish command to Captain James Fisher, currently Training Air Wing Five Vice Commander.
- Military Appreciation Month is an annual event in Santa Rosa County which is held each May. For more information, contact Donna Tucker, Executive Director, Santa Rosa County Chamber of Commerce.
The five NW Florida counties participated in the annual NW Florida Defense Coalition Symposium on March 12-15. The purpose of the trip is to address military related issues affecting our area with congressional and pentagon leaders. Some of the issues addressed include the impact to our area from sequestration and reductions in defense budgets; also the potential for a future BRAC round and efforts that can be taken to minimize a BRAC impact to military missions in the Florida panhandle.
Airbus Supplier Meeting Held
On Feb. 27 Airbus held a potential supplier meeting in Mobile. Over 600 attended the meeting which offered suppliers the opportunity to receive information about the new facility and have their questions answered by Airbus officials. Airbus is expected to break ground on its A320 Family jetliner final assembly line in Mobile, which will become the company's first U.S.-based production facility, in April.
At the meeting Airbus discussed their timeline for the new production facility. Goals for 2013 include site preparation, construction of hangars, identification of local supplier network and employee requirements and basic training. Implementation of machinery, on the job training in Europe, preparation for production and the first shipment of aircraft components are targeted for 2014.
Companies interested in becoming a supplier must first sign up online at www.airbusalabama.com
. For more information contact Tina Stewart, SRCEDO Business Development Manager at 850.623.0174.
RESTORE Project Ideas
Santa Rosa's Local RESTORE Council is interested in project ideas from individuals and organizations for possible funding from Santa Rosa County's direct allocation of 2010 BP Deepwater Horizon Clean Water Act fines. While the process is still evolving (read more at www.santarosa.fl.gov/RESTORE), the framework for developing a multi-year plan for Santa Rosa and the state of Florida through the Santa Rosa County Local RESTORE Council and the Gulf Consortium is taking shape now.
Those wishing to submit their ideas for possible Santa Rosa RESTORE Act project funding may complete the RESTORE Act Proposed Project Information Form found online at www.santarosa.fl.gov/RESTORE under the submit project information tab. Projects must focus on one or more of the following eligible activities:
- Restoration/protection of natural resource
- Mitigation of damage to fish, wildlife & natural resources
- Implementation of federally approved marine, coastal or conservation management
- Workforce development and job creation
- Improve State Parks in coastal areas affected by oil spill
- Infrastructure projects benefiting economy or ecological resources
- Coastal flood protection and related infrastructure
- Promotion of tourism and seafood in the Gulf Coast region
The process of how project ideas will be officially submitted, reviewed and selected is still evolving. Information on potential local RESTORE projects collected at this time will be presented to the Santa Rosa Local RESTORE Council for initial discussions and to provide preparatory feedback to the organizations submitting the project idea. Completing the online form will not be the only mechanism for the collection of project information, rather a first step in the process at this time. The Local RESTORE Council's goal is to solicit project ideas through a variety of outlets to insure that RESTORE funds are allocated to those projects which best meet the criteria established by the RESTORE Act.