State-supported export promotion and foreign direct investments are now a key ingredient to state economic development strategies as state leaders recognize the importance of global markets in the creation of domestic jobs. States support international trade and investment by maintaining or contracting for overseas international trade offices that promote the state’s trade interests and facilitate trade and investment with potential international partners.

Small business often is called the engine that drives the American economy.  “We know that the bulk of new job creation comes from small and medium-sized businesses,” said Jean Davis, director of the North Carolina Department of Commerce’s International Trade Division.  Today, those small businesses are increasingly venturing into the international marketplace. Last year, states got a new tool to help those businesses reach their goals of increasing their international sales or jumping into the export market for the first time.

Exports really matter.  “We must leverage federal resources to help statewide job growth. International trade is a true gateway to economic recovery,” Brooks Ohlson, director of the Northern California Regional Center for International Trade Development, said during a session of The Council of State Governments Western Region’s 64th Annual Meeting this week.

You might be surprised to learn that 99 percent of all soybeans produced in Nebraska are exported to Mexico. Or that more than 8 million U.S. jobs depend on trade with Canada alone, equal to 4.4 percent of total U.S. employment - or 1 in 23 American jobs. And over the past decade, Vermont’s exports to China grew by over 4,300%.