3rd Quarter 2011

Open Flash version | pdf | trade report






These maps appear to show a state that is on two export tracks: a smaller set of counties with a robust growth in new exporters, and the larger part of the state where export activity is flat or in decline.

County Exporting Trends

[continued from page 2]

Another cut at this question is to compare Tennessee counties against a national average. Is the percentage of firms that export in a county larger or smaller than is typical for the U.S. as a whole? We map the state on this dimension in 1995 and again in 2010. Together, these maps indicate a concentration of exporting within Tennessee. The number of counties in which the percentage of exporters falls below the national average has actually risen over the past 15 years. And the counties in which the percentage is higher are increasingly centered in the middle part of the state, specifically in the southern tier of the Nashville MSA (with Trousdale, Smith, and Montgomery just to the north) and around the Chattanooga area. With only some exaggeration, we might call this the "automobile belt." Anderson, Hamblen, and Hawkins alone stand out in East Tennessee, and Hardeman is the one county in the western part of the state that also has a greater intensity of exporting firms than the national average. These maps appear to show a state that is on two export tracks: a smaller set of counties with a robust growth in new exporters, and the larger part of the state where export activity is flat or in decline.

 

County Exporters Compared to U.S. Average: 1995

Tennessee county exporters compared to U.S. average 1995

County Exporters Compared to U.S. Average: 2010

Tennessee county exporters compared to U.S. average 2010

In many ways this picture mirrors general economic trends in the state, but there are also some differences. The Chattanooga MSA clearly punches above its weight, while the Memphis and Tri-Cities MSAs perform more poorly than might be expected. These differences grow from different industry presences across counties but from local business cultures and global connections as well.

The big picture is a tremendous growth in the number of Tennessee firms that export. Within this setting is a smaller picture of a growing differentiation in export activity across the state and the concentration of new exporters within several state regions. Both pictures merit attention.

[continued: TN international trade report »]