By Jim Hook
firstname.lastname@example.org @JimHookPO on Twitter
UPDATED: 07/14/2015 09:14:42 PM EDT0 COMMENTS
WASHINGTON, D.C. >> Exports from Franklin County are growing at nearly 10 percent a year, according to the most recent data from the U.S. Department of Commerce.
Local producers ship construction equipment to Asia, cows to Russia, even firewood to Bermuda.
“We have more companies tied globally than we sometimes recognize,” said Michael Ross, president of the Franklin County Area Development Corp. “There are now — because of technology — more opportunities to participate in the global economy than at any point previously.”
Franklin County producers exported goods worth $659 million last year, an increase of $56 million, or 9.2 percent, from 2013 to 2014. Together the two metro areas on the Interstate 81 corridor to the south — Hagerstown, Maryland-Martinsburg, West Virginia ($238 million) and Winchester, Virginia ($408 million) — did not export as much.
The commerce department in 2013 began to track exports from the Chambersburg-Waynesboro area, which first was designated a metro area in 2012. The 2014 numbers just came out.
The International Trade Administration’s 2014 Metropolitan Area Export Overview highlights goods and exports for 2014 from 388 U.S. metropolitan areas. The Chambersburg-Waynesboro area was among 139 metro areas setting export records. Key merchandise export categories included machinery and transportation equipment, among others.
Companies that export are not constricted by the regional or domestic market. Exporting “clearly strengthens our economy,” Ross said.
Local exports include construction equipment, cranes, lifts, utility trailers and all kinds of agricultural products, according to Ross. The commerce department adds to the list: Processed foods, printing activities and nonmetallic mineral products.
Many exports find their way to NAFTA partners, Canada and Mexico, Ross said.
Clare Reay shows examples of some of the multi-language decals which accompany the Grove and Volvo equipment produced at Gate 7 in Greencastle on Thusday,
Volvo Construction Equipment will send about 20 percent of the 2015 production at its Shippensburg plant outside the U.S., according to Meg Dameron, communication manager for Volvo.
“We like to manufacture close to our customers whenever it makes good business sense,” she said. “Following that logic, most of the Volvo Construction Equipment products manufactured in Shippensburg are sold into the North American market.”
Between 35 and 45 percent of Franklin County exports in 2014 went to countries on the rim of the Pacific Ocean, according to the commerce department. Less than 25 percent was exported to countries in the European Union.
Local businesses export all over the world, according to Ray Hummer, a partner in LBK Transport at the Cumberland Valley Business Park. His company sets up and documents shipments for local companies. Founded in 2009 with three employees, LBK currently employs 13.
Manufacturers try to build near their markets, but they don’t have a plant in every country, he said. Some companies will export parts to their plants in a foreign country where their final products are assembled.
With the dollar down against other currencies, trade had favored U.S. exports while imports had been weak, according to Hummer.
With a strengthening dollar, U.S. exports have been falling off and could slow economic growth.
Despite unfavorable currency rates, Oshkosh Corp. reported increased sales of lifts during the second quarter in all world markets except Latin America. Oshkosh produces lifts at JLG plants in Shippensburg and McConnellsburg, just outside Franklin County.
Manitowoc, which makes cranes in Franklin County, reported growth in the Middle East and Asia-Pacific regions during its second quarter, but reduced sales elsewhere. The company recently laid off more than 100 at the Shady Grove plant.
“The (economic) recovery hasn’t been as strong as we’ve seen in past recoveries,” Ross said.
Smaller local companies also export.
Gish Logging has been shipping packaged firewood to Bermuda for about six years, Ernie Gish said.
“It’s a small account,” he said. “They found us. We get quite a few inquires from Kuwait and Saudi. I really haven’t paid them as much attention as I should. We have a hard enough time meeting the demand for firewood here. We exported to Saudi Arabia on a trial basis.”
Gate 7 near Greencastle produces decals for machinery produced locally. Manager John Reay hesitates to count the labels he sends to Canada, but Gate 7 also makes logos for machinery that local manufacturers send to other parts of the world.
Franklin County exports grew faster than the national average. The export of goods from U.S. metropolitan areas exceeded $1.4 trillion in 2014, up more than 2 percent or $36 billion from 2013 and accounting for 89 percent of all U.S. goods exports.
Other metro areas in south-central Pennsylvania exported much more in 2014 than the Chambersburg-Waynesboro area — $3.1 billion from Harrisburg-Carlisle, $2 billion from York and $975 million from Lancaster.
Jim Hook can be reached at 717-262-4759.