Wichita Leaders, Businesses Work to Increase International Trade
Wichita has long enjoyed a global reputation for manufacturing excellence, and now thanks to a coordinated efforts to promote new export opportunities, that reputation is spreading.
Wichita has long enjoyed a global reputation for manufacturing excellence, and now thanks to a coordinated effort to promote new export opportunities, that reputation is spreading. More than 27 percent of Wichita's total economic output is tied to exports, placing Wichita No. 3 among U.S. metros. The region has forged major food, transportation equipment and manufactured goods sectors, and its companies produce many high-demand products that the world wants to buy. The region is known across the world as a center of commercial and general aviation aircraft production, a key export category. “In Wichita, we are dependent on exports and look to grow even more,” says Tim Chase, president of the Greater Wichita Economic Development Coalition. “There is now an effort throughout Wichita to increase our overall export market by 10 percent, which will equate to thousands of new jobs.” Growing the export market is a strategy preached for years by Wichita-based Kansas Global Trade Services, a nonprofit organization that provides international trade advice and services to Kansas companies on exporting and foreign market opportunities. Kansas Global is overseeing the region’s Global Cities Initiative, a joint project of the Brookings Institution and JPMorgan Chase, to build an export plan for a 10-county region that encompasses Wichita and south central Kansas. The year-long initiative is scheduled for completion by early 2015. “The Brookings research project involves regional discussion to draw a picture of where opportunities exist to boost exporting, so that individual companies can boost their profits, create new jobs and contribute even more to the area economy,” says Karyn Page, president/CEO of Kansas Global Trade Services. “Our organization also works on getting the word out about exporting to the media and elected officials, making sure they know the importance of international trade for our economy.” Exporting Opportunities Abound Page says even though Wichita has solid track record for exports, many more exporting opportunities are available to companies interested in increasing their international reach. “Our organization offers plenty of education on how to export and how to comply with trade regulations, and we also host foreign delegations,” she says. In June 2014, representatives from the South African consulate were in Wichita at Kansas Global Services' invitation to promote doing business with South Africa and their aviation industry. "Local companies have since contacted us, asking how to do business with South Africa,” Page says. In 2014, a local Wichita company contacted Kansas Global to ask how to submit a construction bid in Qatar. “The whole Kansas Global team is here to answer questions about exporting, to help companies get the job done,” she says. “We know how to navigate in the global marketplace.” Shipping to 130 Countries Several Wichita construction equipment companies are also heavy into international markets, including Balco Architectural Products, whose construction components are now sold in 30 countries. At the Case New Holland Industrial manufacturing plant in Wichita, 40 percent of the skid steer loaders and track loaders produced are targeted for export. “About 10 percent go to Canada and Mexico, 10 percent to Latin America, another 10 percent to Asia/Pacific Rim and the rest go to Europe and the Middle East,” says Jeffery Bolander, CNH Industrial plant manager. “In 2013, we shipped skid steer loaders to 130 countries.” Bolander says he appreciates the pro-export support that Wichita companies receive from the chamber and economic development officials as well as congressional representatives and senators in Washington, D.C. “It’s good to see local, state and federal leaders working to boost international trade even more for area businesses,” Bolander says. Learn more about area partnerships that enhance Wichita's economy.