Wyoming Exports Fuel State's Economy
While being home on the range is great in Wyoming, the state is making a name for itself well outside its borders.
Exports by Wyoming businesses totaled $1.4 billion in 2012, and over the past five years, exports have grown by more than 30 percent. Wyoming is one of 11 states that saw double-digit growth from 2011 to 2012.
The state’s major exports include chemicals, machinery, oil and gas products, and minerals. More than 63,000 Wyoming jobs are tied to international trade, and nearly 20 percent of all manufacturing workers depend on exports for their jobs.
Wyoming is gaining in export volume annually and laying a foundation for future growth with aggressive programs that help small and large businesses alike crack international markets.
Many of those efforts are being spearheaded by the Wyoming Business Council, a state agency that facilitates economic growth.
A relatively new program, ExporTech, is administered through the Business Council, and provides a boost for smaller companies that want to get into international trade. Over the past two years, ExporTech has worked with 11 Wyoming companies in the manufacturing, agribusiness, retail and technology industries, and many of them are already seeing new or expanded export activity.
“We are interested in providing a value-added service to companies in the state. We have been able to assist companies with targeting foreign markets for their products,” says Cindy Garretson-Weibel, director of agribusiness for the Wyoming Business Council and program manager for ExporTech.
A grant from the Small Business Administration’s State Trade Export Promotion program, helped Wyoming businesses offset ExporTech training costs. ExporTech was conducted in part by the Business Council, Manufacturing Works and the Wyoming Small Business Development Center.
“Our mission is to provide Wyoming companies with opportunities to expand their markets overseas,” Garretson-Weibel says. “A lot of what we do is training; we have found this not only helps them in product development and marketing overseas, but even enhances their domestic market plans.”
Tom Balding, owner of Tom Balding Bits & Spurs in Sheridan, is a recent graduate of the ExporTech program. Balding’s company makes bits and spurs used extensively by the equine industry.
“Being part of the program was a great opportunity,” Balding says. “For several years, we had considered exporting, but we didn’t have all of the tools and know-how to do it.”
Balding said he is seeing some early results from participating in the program and has added customers in Australia, Europe and Japan.
Bruce King, chief executive officer, of AristaTek in Laramie, says the ExporTech program helps his company focus on the right international customers for his business. AristaTek has developed a software program to assist first responders in dealing with hazardous materials incidents.
“We hadn’t considered exporting, and decided it was time to do that,” King says.
ExporTech Boosts Wyoming Trade
Larry Stewart, an ExporTech program manager and director of Manufacturing Works, says ExporTech helps companies look at their products or services and match them to overseas markets. Manufacturing Works provides technical assistance, engineering solutions, general business assistance, marketing advice and financial counseling to manufacturers.
The Business Council also helps Wyoming companies get insurance guarantees and export funding through Export-Import Bank programs. Another helpful program is the U.S. Agriculture Department’s Market Access Program, which gives food producers in the state technical assistance in exporting.
Wyoming’s agriculture-related companies are making inroads into international markets. In 2012, Jessen Wheat Company, in Pine Bluffs, became the first U.S. wheat producer to export organic proso millet and wheat to China.
The ExporTech program offered a host a lot of worthwhile ideas for Sue Osborn, a principal at EMIT Technologies.
"We had already been doing some exporting, but we feel the ExporTech program helped us enhance our export business,” says Osborn, whose Sheridan-based company makes catalysts and other emission control products used in the natural gas and other industries. “The classes gave us some additional learning and resources to go deeper into the export business,” Osborn says.
Peggy Drury, owner of Crazy Woman Water Co. in Buffalo, Wyo., said she received expert advice on her overall business plan from the training, which could lead to an expansion of her artesian water products business into Canada in the near future.
"They helped me understand the mechanics of the export business," Drury says.