1st Quarter 2012

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Globalization

Regional patterns in global success:
A look across tennessee counties
by Steven G. Livingston | 1 | 2 | 3

Globalization brings both opportunities and challenges. Some regions are well positioned to gain from the continuing integration of the global economy, while others will be severely tested by this same development. From this perspective, we examine the situation in Tennessee with some simple maps of industry structure and export performance across its 95 counties.

The regions most likely to prosper in a globalizing world are those whose businesses are located in America's most dynamic economic sectors. They will be globally competitive and will be able to take advantage of increased market access to other areas of the world. We can measure this competitiveness in several ways. The capacity to export is one convincing indicator of competitiveness. The dynamism of the industries located in the county is another.

A relatively small number of goods account for a large portion of American exports. Almost half of our exports come from just 15 sectors of the economy (measured at the 4-digit NAICS level). Counties that are invested in these same sectors are likely to be the most competitive in coming years. We present a county map that shows the percentage of manufacturing in each Tennessee county that is in one of these 15 sectors. It shows a broad swath on the Cumberland Plateau and in the middle of west Tennessee that have relatively few manufacturing establishments in these sectors. These regions are not well positioned for the future. On the other hand, the outer ring of the Nashville MSA, the Tri-Cities, and most particularly the Oak Ridge/Knoxville area feature a substantial percentage of firms in America's top export sectors and are far better positioned to take advantage of increased global trade.

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Number of Establishments in America's Fastest-Growing Export Industries

percent of foreign-born population 2005-2009
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