Dozens of small Spokane companies, many with fewer than 10 employees, have at least a toehold in exporting.
According to a newly released survey for the International Trade Alliance, most of the 284 companies that responded do less than 15 percent of their business outside the United States, with Canada and Mexico the most frequently tapped markets. A handful depend on export sales for all their revenues.
The results are consistent with those from earlier surveys, said ITA Trade Assistance Director Karen Cooney.
But the 2006 survey by the Institute for Public Policy and Economic Analysis at Eastern Washington University was the first to sort responses using the North American Industrial Classification System, which gave the alliance a better handle on sectors most actively exporting, she said. The top three were machinery and manufacturing; professional, scientific and technical services; and electronic product manufacturing.
“It helps us get a better snapshot of the region,” said Cooney, who counsels area companies exploring the potential for export sales.
She said the results help the ITA decide what seminars might be most valuable for would-be exporters, and what markets are most attractive. The ITA plans a trade mission to Calgary in March that will be led by Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers, R-Wash.
Institute Executive Director Patrick Jones said the survey shows exports are an important contributor to the Inland Northwest economy. A possible downturn in the domestic economy could underscore their contribution, he added.
“They could be a cushion to give the economy a soft landing,” Jones said.
Another survey will be conducted in the spring.