USA's manufacturing export boost being fueld, in part, by Northland businesses

By KBJR News 1

December 19, 2013 Updated Dec 19, 2013 at 5:21 PM CST

Duluth, MN (NNCNOW.com) - USA–made exports have rebounded to pre–recession levels.

A report released by US Senator Amy Klobuchar Tuesday on behalf of the Congressional Joint Economic Committee shows that over 550,000 jobs have been added to the nation's manufacturing sector since 2010.

It's a trend that is welcomed by Northland manufacturers, even if there's still much work to do to keep job growth numbers on the rise.

The report co–released by Congressional Joint Economic Committee Vice Chair Senator Amy Klobuchar touts that the nation's manufacturing sector has experienced a 38% increase in exports "with more to come," says Senator Klobuchar, "if we get our act together, and make sure that we're training workers so they have the skills to take these jobs, to make sure that we are opening markets abroad, and not having an uneven playing field."

That evening of the playing field is taking place in the Northland, specifically along the production line at Duluth Pack, on Superior Street, in Duluth.

The 130 year–old outdoor gear manufacturer currently has 250 dealers worldwide.

"It's all a part of a movement that's very important," says Duluth Pack Director of Sales and Marketing Molly Solberg. "We get phone call after phone call saying I want an American–made Christmas this year, and I'm coming down to the Duluth Pack store."

Production at Duluth Pack has doubled over the past decade, so much so they're exporting to places like Japan, and China.

Solberg says their recession rebound can in–large be attributed to an on–line global expansion effort.

"To be able to branch out globally, [which is] what the internet has been able to do, [and] social media—the stories our customers can tell—really helps expand the reach that we can have," says Solberg.

According to Duluth–based Cirrus Aircraft Executive VP of Sales Todd Simmons, 35 to 40 percent of their airplane sales are outside of the country.

Simmons says Cirrus's 2013 export growth is larger than the past 5 years combined.

"When I say outside growth, I mean 25, 30, 35 percent year–over–year growth," says an excited Simmons. "We saw growth this year with a big fleet order... with the Royal Saudi Air Force. Over 20 airplanes went to that part of the country.

Still, manufacturing has only gained back 550,000 of the 2.3 million jobs lost during the recession.

Senator Klobuchar says legislative efforts, such as boosting Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) education, can further strengthen the sector.

Senator Klobuchar has also introduced the bipartisan "SCORE" act, which would cut back on unnecessary regulations for manufacturers.

Billy Wagness

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