U.S. exports in February ticked up while imports slid to help lower the U.S. trade deficit by $6 billion.
The U.S. Department of Commerce said Thursday that the deficit created between exports and imports of U.S. goods and services fell to $46 billion in February from $52.5 billion in January.
U.S. manufacturers and other firms exported $181.2 billion worth of goods and services in February, which was up $0.2 billion from the month before. In contrast, imports fell $6.3 billion to $227.2 billion, largely because U.S. companies imported fewer goods from China.
Trade is considered by many to be the new economic engine for both the nation and the state of Minnesota.
Local mayors, the governor, the Minnesota Trade Office and The Brookings Institution are all calling on medium companies here to pursue exporting opportunities. The goal, which mimics a White House initiative, is to double exports by 2017 in and to dramatically increase employment.
Minnesota currently has an unemployment rate of 5.7 percent and still has about 161,000 unemployment people actively looking for work. The national unemployment rate is 8.2 percent.
If you are a tiny business looking to export your goods, listen up. The state has training money for you.
The Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED) just received more than $450,000 from the U.S. Small Business Administration for its State Trade and Export Promotion Program (STEP).
Exporting is seen as such an economic boom and job creator that the state and feds want more small businesses in the game. The $450,000 pool of training dollars is meant to provide technical assistance to companies who want to sell to foreign markets for the first time or expand into new markets. The ultimate goal, however, is to spur job growth here at home.
"The revenue and jobs that exports create here at home are extremely important to Minnesota's economic health and well-being," said DEED Commissioner Mark Phillips. "Last year, state exports of manufactured goods, agricultural commodities and services totaled $31 billion and were responsible for an estimated 115,000 jobs."
Still, only about 8,100 Minnesota companies do business outside the United States, said Minnesota Trade Office Executive Director Katie Clark. "There is tremendous untapped export potential for small businesses statewide, especially those engaged in manufacturing, wholesaling, and professional and technical services," she said.
For more information or to apply to STEP, go to www.positivelyminnesota.com/step.
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