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Exporting: $3.6 Billion Boost to Central Florida’s Economy

Exports in Central Florida

Report: $3.6 Billion in Exports Boosts Central Florida Economy

The Central Florida International Trade Office recently published a groundbreaking Central Florida Export Report that provides insight into why exporting is important not only to Orlando area businesses and entrepreneurs but also to the community as a whole. The report will serve as a baseline for measuring future export success in the region.

“Orange County’s $2.1 billion in exports makes a vital contribution to the local economy,” said Orange County Mayor Jerry Demings. “Foreign markets provide opportunities for homegrown small businesses — including those that are women- and minority-owned — to grow not only by increasing their sales globally but also by taking lessons learned abroad to find new ways to sell successfully here at home. With such a diverse local population, Central Florida is the natural place to do business with the world.”

The report highlights the comprehensive international trade activity in Central Florida in 2018, the most recent year for which data is available. Overall, merchandise exports in the Greater Orlando region were valued at $3.6 billion. Of this amount, $2.1 billion was exported from Orange County, $835 million from Seminole County, $351 million from Lake County and $280 million from Osceola County.

That $3.6 billion in exports is a big number — in fact, if Greater Orlando were a state, it would rank as the 45th largest exporter in the United States, just behind New Mexico and ahead of Vermont — but even greater than that is the ability to grow a small business through accessing a world of opportunities. With 95% of the world’s consumers and 75% of global wealth outside the United States, the rest of the world represents too large a market for Central Florida businesses to ignore.

Top Orlando Exports by Industry It’s not just businesses that are benefiting, but the whole community. Using the export job estimator prepared by the U.S. Department of Commerce’s International Trade Administration (ITA), the data suggests that nearly 21,000 local jobs are supported by exports. These are high-paying jobs: The ITA estimates that exports contribute an additional 18% to workers’ earnings on average in the U.S. manufacturing sector.

Overall, Central Florida exports are geographically diversified though heavily focused on North, South and Central America as well as the Caribbean. Orlando exports to 224 countries, from major markets like Canada ($239 million), Brazil ($238 million) and Mexico ($223 million) to more surprising ones around the world like the Faeroe Islands (in the North Atlantic Ocean), Lesotho (in Southern Africa), and Christmas Island (in the Indian Ocean).

We all know the world recognizes Florida as the premier place to enjoy fun in the sun, but the report reveals that we are also major exporters of some high-value products. In fact, the region’s top export sector is industrial machinery, which includes engines, machines and computer parts as well as automotive motors and jet engines. Electronics — including computer circuits, radio and TV transmission apparatuses, batteries and electronic panels — make up our second-most-successful export sector. And rounding out the top five are cars, trucks and parts; medical and optical equipment; and, in a nod to our agricultural heritage, dairy and eggs (primarily cheese, butter and fresh eggs).

The export report also highlights the many advantages Central Florida enjoys, including a diverse population with personal and business connections to South America and the Caribbean; easy access to three major ports (Port Canaveral, Port Tampa Bay and JAXPORT in Jacksonville); a world-class airport (Orlando International) and several smaller international airports; as well as access to rail and trucking through the I-4 corridor.

Has this whetted your appetite to grow your small business and diversify markets by accessing the global marketplace? The report also provides an overview of the state, federal and local service providers available to help you become export ready, decide where you want to start exporting, find financing for your exports, and learn how to make connections with potential new customers.

To learn more about what Central Florida is exporting and where, and why Orlando businesses should consider exporting, you can request a copy of the report at https://cfito.org/export-report-2.


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About the author

Chris Leggett

CHRIS LEGGETT is the program manager at the Central Florida International Trade Office and serves as vice chair for trade policy of the Central-North Florida District Export Council.

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