San Antonio Selected for Metropolitan Exports Exchange Program

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The City of San Antonio has been selected by the Brookings Institution to participate in the Metropolitan Export Exchange (MEE) program. As part of the exchange, area business and civic leaders will spend nine months studying the region’s manufacturing and export industries. Based on those studies Brookings will guide the city in putting together a plan to increase the amount of goods and services it exports abroad. In 2011, Brookings developed the Metropolitan Export Initiative (MEI), a ground-up collaborative effort to help a pilot group of regional civic, business, and political leaders, with their states, create and implement customized Metropolitan Export Plans (MEP). These localized export plans apply market intelligence to develop better targeted, integrated export-related services and strategies to help regions better connect their firms to global customers, as outlined by their individualized export goals.

“The Brookings Institution Metropolitan Export Exchange Program is yet another great tool that San Antonio can leverage to boost its economic competitiveness, a goal our community outlined in our SA2020 plan. We look forward to working with our partner agencies to increase our exports abroad,” said Mayor Julián Castro.

To help other metropolitan leaders successfully adopt their own plans, Brookings developed The Metropolitan Export Exchange, a six- to 12- month program that will use a mix of peer learning opportunities, regional team work assignments, data tools, and targeted advice to help multiple metropolitan areas successfully design and launch (and ultimately implement) their own MEPs by the end of the exchange period.

“The San Antonio metro area has been positioning itself well in the global market,” said Brad McDearman, Brookings fellow and director of the Metropolitan Export Initiative. “The region’s involvement in the Metro Export Exchange will both enhance San Antonio’s international trade efforts and contribute to a well-rounded group of participating U.S. metro areas that are becoming more intentional about their global futures.”

As part of the exchange, San Antonio will collaborate with officials from Chicago, San Diego and Charleston, among others, who are also participating in the Export Exchange program. The cities will share best practices to boost exports abroad.

“San Antonio’s export market share has grown in the post-recession period and was ranked as the 7th fastest export growth rate in the nation. Our participation in the Metropolitan Export Exchange Program will help us leverage the city’s logistical benefits and relationships with our sister cities abroad. We look forward to working with other cities across the nation to share best practices in this program,” said City Manager Sheryl Sculley.

The City of San Antonio’s Economic Development Department will work with partner agencies such as the San Antonio Economic Development Foundation and the Free Trade Alliance, among others, to capitalize on that momentum and identify ways local businesses can do more business with foreign companies. MEE aims to help metropolitan areas adopt or refine their global trade strategies. These localized export plans will use market research to develop targeted export-related strategies that help regions better connect their firms to global customers. Each plan is based on a region’s unique strengths. The plans will also examine the possible state and federal reforms needed to support the national goal of increasing exports.

The Metropolitan Export Initiative is part of the Brookings-Rockefeller Project on State and Metropolitan Innovation, a national effort to catalyze and showcase leading-edge practices to boost the nation’s transition to the next economy.