Experience in Nebraska shows that it pays to be connected to the global economy.
Last year, Nebraska businesses sold more than $7.4 billion worth of merchandise to foreign markets, a 28 percent increase from two years earlier.
That included $2.4 billion of sales in food items and $1.3 billion each in non-electrical machinery and agricultural products.
A recent international trade convention in La Vista highlighted this region’s connections to the global marketplace. At the event, Baldwin Filters of Kearney was named the state’s Exporter of the Year.
Nearly half of Baldwin’s sales now come from overseas markets, The World-Herald’s Barbara Soderlin reports.
The company is expanding into Mexico, China, Europe and elsewhere, and that openness to the global market is helping Baldwin to grow. It recently broke ground on a 400,000-square-foot distribution center in Kearney, nearly four times the size of its current facility there.
Last year, Grand Island-based Chief Industries, which makes a diversified line of manufacturing products, was named the state’s large manufacturer of the year by the Nebraska Chamber of Commerce and Industry. “Strong export growth” has been one of the company’s keys to success, a World-Herald news article noted.
More than 1,900 Nebraska businesses export products to overseas markets. Rep. Adrian Smith, an open-trade supporter whose 3rd Congressional District stretches border to border across Nebraska, says his district’s exports include “metal buildings from Behlen Manufacturing in Columbus, popcorn from Imperial or Central City, or beef from a small packing plant.”
Popcorn is a significant export presence for Nebraska? You bet.
Nebraska, it turns out, is our country’s No. 1 producer, with a harvest of some 294 million pounds.
Smith says he has been amazed at the size and global reach of the 3rd District’s popcorn exporters.
When Gov. Dave Heineman led a trade delegation to China last summer, one of the Nebraska business leaders who joined him was Norman Krug, CEO of Preferred Popcorn, based in Chapman, Neb. Krug’s company has long experience in foreign sales, with customers in 55 countries and annual shipments to China of more than 90 million popcorn servings.
Impressive on the world market too, Smith notes, is AK Acres Popcorn Co. out of Imperial.
Opening up foreign markets is something our country’s leaders can agree on regardless of party affiliation, Smith says. “The biggest bipartisan achievement of the president’s first term,” he says, “was passage of the free-trade agreements with South Korea, Columbia and Panama.”
Smith says the state generally has structured its tax and economic development policies well to facilitate Nebraskans who seek to enter the world marketplace, and each successive governor in recent decades has contributed to strengthening Nebraska’s overseas marketing connections.
Smith is right when he says the opportunities are out there, as nearly 2,000 Nebraska businesses with export connections now demonstrate.