The Brookings Institution released an extensive report that detailed several key export trends in which the Youngstown metro area was among the country’s top performers, ranking it No. 1 in export growth between 2009 and 2012.
The report, released Tuesday, was a joint study between JPMorgan Chase, the nation’s largest investment bank, and Brookings, a leading think tank based in Washington, D.C.
As export performance among the nation’s top 100 metropolitan areas has throttled to the leading edge of the nation’s economic recovery, the report is the third in a series meant to better identify the strengths and weakness associated with each region’s export potential and capabilities.
Exports accounted for 54 percent of post-recession output growth in the 100 largest metro areas, compared with 37 percent for the nation as a whole, according to the report.
Experts and others involved in manufacturing, goods and services in Youngstown attributed its high ranking in the report to a concerted effort in recent years to educate the region’s employers about the benefits of exporting and how to take advantage of those opportunities.
“It doesn’t surprise me that we’re seeing good export growth. There’s been a realization of opportunity among the region’s manufacturers that exports are important and they need to be taking advantage of them,” said Jessica Borza, coordinator for the Oh-Penn Manufacturing Collaborative. “There’s been a recognition to diversify customer base and achieve the stability that comes with it and the support it creates for the local workforce.”
Michael Hripko, director of STEM research and technology-based economic development at Youngstown State University, said the university and area business leaders have done a better job at marketing the region and raising the awareness for manufacturing prowess.
Nonferrous metal products have led export growth in Youngstown, Brookings said. The sector accounted for 32.6 percent of exports by generating $876.7 million.
Motor-vehicle exports were next, accounting for 13.5 percent of exports with $632.8 million generated, and petroleum and coal products rounded out the region’s top-three exports accounting for 5.1 percent of the regions share or $207.6 million.
The report detailed the Youngstown-Warren-Boardman metropolitan statistical area, which encompasses Mahoning and Trumbull counties, as well as Mercer County in Pennsylvania.
With Youngstown at the MSA’s center, Brookings found that the export of goods and services accounted for $4.7 billion, or about 13.9 percent of all the metro region’s economic output, ranking it No. 8 among the nation’s major cities and their surrounding areas.
While the $4.7 billion generated by goods and services in the Youngstown MSA was just 63rd nationwide, and the annualized export growth rate between 2003 and 2008 was just 3.5 percent, or 91st in the nation during that time, Brookings found that in the years immediately after the country’s recession that began in December 2007, Youngs-town’s export growth boomed at a rate of 22.2 percent between 2009 and 2012, making it the fastest-growing exporter in the country over the last four years.
In 2010, President Barack Obama launched the National Export Initiative, which aimed to double exports by 2015 in an effort to reach more of the 95 percent of consumers living outside the U.S.
Brookings found that while export growth has been strong across the country, the U.S. is more than $200 million below the administration’s goal.
“Exports have been a critical driver of the post-recession recovery in the U.S. and its metro areas,” said Brad McDearman, director of Brookings Metropolitan Export Initiative and co-author of the report. “Metro leaders that make boosting exports an economic-development priority are better positioning their regions for success in the more globally connected 21st century economy.”