Columbus Region Unveils Assessment, Plan of Action for Increasing Exports

April 30, 2014

Download this press release (PDF)

Columbus, OH –The Columbus Region recently completed a market assessment and developed a corresponding plan of action to increase exports as part of the Global Cities Initiative, a joint project of Brookings and JPMorgan Chase. This will help the Region meet its goal of becoming one of the top 25 metropolitan areas for exported goods and services by 2020. The full report and plan, spearheaded by Columbus 2020, was unveiled today at the Columbus Metropolitan Club and is available at

“The export plan is a collaborative effort to help regional partners create and implement customized metropolitan export plans, with the ultimate goal of better connecting their companies to global customers,” said Brad McDearman, Brookings fellow and director of metropolitan trade and investment. “The Columbus Region has taken the important first steps of assessing the market and developing an aggressive plan of action, and we look forward to seeing how this information progresses the area’s global export efforts.”

In 2012, the Columbus Region was one of 12 metropolitan areas chosen to participate in the Metropolitan Export Initiative, originally part of the Brookings-Rockefeller Project on State and Metropolitan Innovation, which included support earmarked for boosting export efforts. In late 2013, the Region was selected to take part in the Global Cities Initiative’s Exchange, a new project of JPMorgan Chase and the Brookings Institution. This latest Initiative continues the export planning activities and broadens the focus, incorporating eight additional metropolitan regions and prioritizing global trade and investment.

“JPMorgan Chase is committed to helping businesses connect to global markets, and we are glad to have the Columbus Region as a partner with an understanding of the importance of a robust export strategy,” said James Malz, Ohio market manager, JPMorgan Chase & Co. “We are proud that the Region is joining us in taking a proactive and aggressive approach to boosting export efforts abroad.”

The first stage of the Region’s export planning process was to assess its current export landscape and develop an actionable plan. Through a series of surveys and meetings with companies that currently export or plan to export in the near future, and also with companies that service the export industry, the market assessment helped to identify the following key findings:

  • The Columbus Region’s export economy is performing below that of similarly sized cities and the U.S. as a whole, suggesting an opportunity and potential for significant growth. The Region’s export value as share of output was 10.2 percent in 2012 compared to 20.8 percent and 16.9 percent for Detroit and Indianapolis, respectively.
  • Goods represent more than two-thirds of the Columbus Region’s export value, but the value of exported services has increased greater in proportion – 59 percent from 2003 to 2012, compared to 43 percent for goods. This reinforces that the Region’s “export economy” impacts its overall economy and that opportunities exist with manufacturers, service providers, and even the start-up community.
  • Wages for export-oriented base industry jobs in the Columbus Region are 69 percent higher than the regional average, meaning that boosting export-related goods and services will continue to create high-quality jobs.
  • Forty-one percent of Columbus Region companies surveyed, which are already involved in exporting in some manner, have not used export assistance from the state or federal government, non-profits or the private sector. This reveals a strong opportunity for companies and the Region to act intentionally and take advantage of existing relationships and strategic emerging market opportunities.

Based on the key findings, the Columbus Region has identified four strategies to help meet its goal of becoming one of the top 25 metropolitan areas for exported goods and services by 2020: assisting local economic base companies to expand and grow; attracting additional exporters to the Columbus Region; increasing awareness of global market opportunities; and continuously removing barriers to success for exporters.

The goals and strategies associated with the Global Cities Initiative support and supplement the overall, decade-long goals set forth by Columbus 2020 upon its creation in 2010, which include adding 150,000 net new jobs, increasing per capita income by 30 percent, attracting $8 billion in new capital investment, and becoming a recognized leader in economic development.

“It’s an honor for the Columbus Region to be identified as a priority region for boosting export activity, but even more exciting that we have already taken action to evaluate the landscape and put a plan into place,” said Columbus Mayor Michael B. Coleman. “Increasing our connection to the global business community is a vital part of our city’s economic development strategy.”


About Columbus 2020
Columbus 2020 is a public-private partnership that leverages the strengths of the Columbus Region’s talented workforce, small and large businesses, research and academic institutions, and international connections to ignite economic growth and build a healthier, more sustainable future for Central Ohio. The initiative grows our economy by ensuring that our existing companies are growing and thriving, that the world’s leading companies are attracted to the 11-county region, that innovations are cultivated and commercialized, and that our civic infrastructure is continually improving to meet the challenges of a rapidly evolving world economy. For more information, visit

Kenny McDonald

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