Thumbs up: Trade mission takes businesses to Mexico
Coal is still the mainstay of West Virginia exports.
But non-coal exports are on the rise, and that diversification is good news for the West Virginia economy.
Last year the value of West Virginia exports was more than $8.4 billion, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. Coal accounted for a little more than half of that -- $4.4 billion. Non-coal exports were up by $47 million to $3.9 billion, and the number of countries receiving West Virginia goods was up, too -- from 136 in 2012 to 144 in 2013.
It is important to keep that momentum going, and a recent trade mission to Mexico shows how the state can help area businesses make those international connections. The West Virginia Development Office International Division and U.S. Department of Commerce sponsored the trip earlier this month, pre-arranging meetings with prospective clients, agents, distributors and other contacts in Mexico City, Monterrey and Guadalajara.
Readers may not realize that West Virginia does quite a bit of business with Mexico. It was the eighth largest export market for West Virginia products in 2013, reflecting about $319 million in sales, according to the state Development Office.
Representatives of eight Mountain State businesses went along, including executives from three Cabell County companies -- Steel of West Virginia, Nippon Tungsten and Special Metals.
"They got us in and got us in touch with the actual decision-makers at these companies," said Brad Caserta of Steel of West Virginia. "We started in Mexico City and went from there. There were translators, drivers, folks to take care of us in each city."
Especially for small- and medium-sized businesses, those connections can make all the difference in taking their export business to the next level. Now, the local companies have a host of new leads to follow and hopefully new business orders on the horizon.
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