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BY KEVIN MOE

The Minneapolis-St. Paul area currently ranks 14th in the nation in its dollar volume of exports—about $14.6 billion worth of goods and services were exported in 2010—which is key to a diversified economy and support for more than 117,155 jobs. However, this region also ranks 67th in export growth, showing that regional assets are not being leveraged to their fullest potential.

Since June 2011, the Carlson Global Institute and the Center for International Business Education and Research (CIBER) have served on the steering committee for the MSP Export Initiative. This project, spearheaded by the Minnesota Trade Office and facilitated by the Washington, D.C.-based Brookings Institution, aims to increase and sustain jobs in the region by doubling exports by 2017. Another key objective is increasing the region’s global orientation.

“Our goal is to capitalize on the significant assets of the Twin Cities region to create new jobs through increased exports,” says Minnesota Trade Office Executive Director Katie Clark. “With most market growth expected to occur outside the United States this century, we think it’s a smart strategy to position the Twin Cities as a global leader in exporting.”

Four core strategies have been developed to reach the project’s objective:

1. Connect companies to global opportunities through a unified export team

2. Target the intersection of local products and global demand

3. Promote global advantages, starting with health and wellness

4. Sell Minneapolis-St. Paul to the world

“This initiative is valuable because it’s proactive,” says CIBER Director Abby Pinto. “We have considerable global assets in our region—companies, universities, organizations, and individuals—and when we are coordinated, we are most effective at helping Minnesota businesses connect with international markets.”

A diverse set of players—the U.S. Commercial Service, Small Business Administration, Greater MSP, the Minnesota Chamber of Commerce, Minneapolis and St. Paul economic development staff, and many more—are all engaged in this effort. They met at the Carlson School recently to begin the hard work during this implementation phase.

CGI Associate Dean Michael Houston, CGI Assistant Dean Anne D’Angelo, and CIBER staff currently contribute to multiple working groups during this implementation phase. Goals include identifying MSP’s global assets, increasing the region’s global fluency, creating a recognizable brand for the metro area, and developing a new-to-market/new-to-export training program for companies.

“The Carlson School and the University of Minnesota have a significant role to play in this initiative given our strength in developing globally competent graduates and history of supporting businesses in
our region,” says Houston.

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