Exports Rise to $3.6 Billion Annually in 3-County MSA

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio – The Mahoning and Shenango valleys exported $3.6 billion in goods and services in 2014, commanding 16.1% of the metropolitan statistical area’s total gross domestic product, according to data provided by the Youngstown Warren Regional Chamber.

The Youngstown-Warren-Boardman MSA, which includes Mercer County in western Pennsylvania, ranked 76th among the top 100 such areas in the country in terms of export value. It ranked 11th for percentage share to GDP.

Exports support about 7,300 jobs across the region, data show.

Nonferrous metal products accounted for the largest figure as measured by dollars from this region, $1.050 billion according to the Global Cities Initiative, a joint project of the Brookings Institute and JPMorgan Chase. Motor vehicles were second-largest with $400 million in exports; aircraft products and parts $300 million; iron and steel products $190 million; while aluminum products valued at $140 million were exported from the region.

This activity is what has helped the chamber develop the Ohio-Pennsylvania Stateline Export Initiative, an effort involving 10 counties in northeastern Ohio and western Pennsylvania to explore further export opportunities, said Sarah Boyarko, senior vice president for economic development.

“The purpose of us coming together was to create an opportunity not only to track what each of us was doing, but how we can create strength in numbers,” she said Monday.

To date, the initiative has about 100 surveys completed from companies that provide officials insights into the products and services these companies provide, where new opportunities lie and the relationship with their supply chain.

Local numbers have kept pace with overall activity in northeastern Ohio, according to the latest report issued by Team NEO, the northeastern Ohio affiliate of JobsOhio.

The organization today released its Cleveland Plus Economic Review. The quarterly report usually focuses on a particular segment of the regional economy. This quarter it was export activity.

Jacob Duritsky, vice president, strategy and research at Team NEO, reports that exports originating from companies across northeastern Ohio have increased 40% since 2009, totaling $29 billion in 2014.

“About 80% of that was manufacturing, the other 20% were services exported out,” he said. The $29 billion was an all-time high for exports from northeastern Ohio, he noted, surpassing pre-Great Recession levels in 2006 by 16%.

The largest exporting segment of the regional economy – more than $4 billion — was transportation equipment, most of which is dominated by the automotive industry, Duritsky said. Second-largest was chemical manufacturing at $3.5 billion, while the third-largest sector was primary-metal manufacturing.

“Two-thirds of all manufacturing products in the region do get exported out of the country,” he said. Exports, he added, represents 12.7% of total gross regional product. This year, GRP is expected to reach $229 billion.

Beverages and tobacco products, however, is the sector with the highest growth rate when it comes to exports, Duritsky said. Between 2006 and 2014, exports of beverages and tobacco products – mostly beverage – skyrocketed more than 144% to $57 million. Food manufacturing increased 63% over the same period to $916 million.

“We had some fairly notable deals take place in the region in past several years – Daisy Sour Cream, Pepperidge Farms, Nestle, Smuckers have all invested heavily in the region,” Duritsky said. “Food manufacturing is one of the highest growth sectors that we have seen.”

Manufacturing accounts for $22 billion in exports, while about $7 billion falls into the service sector.

Service segments such as the medical and education fields are also growing in importance because international patients and students travel to the region either to seek treatment or pursue an education. “That would be considered exporting these services,” he explained.

Copyright 2022 The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.