While much of the nation grapples with downturns and setbacks, Georgia’s exporters are a lesson in contrast – rising up and defying expectations through growth, innovation, and unwavering determination. Marking the third consecutive year of record-breaking success in 2023, exports surpassed an impressive $49.7 billion. Despite headwinds, Georgia is thriving.

These achievements didn’t happen by accident. Georgia’s leaders have consistently made strategic investments to diversify our industry base, support businesses’ access to international markets and create global gateways that keep business moving and our economy growing. There are numerous reasons why Georgia punches above our weight in exports.

Georgia’s exports reflect this commitment through the diverse landscape of industries located across the Peach State. Products ranging from civilian aircraft parts to poultry confirm the strength of our aerospace, automotive, advanced manufacturing, food processing, and agriculture industries. As more e-mobility manufacturers come online, we likewise expect to see continued growth in these exports.

New trade & investment opportunities

Our international connections not only help Georgia-made products find a home abroad – creating new jobs and strengthening Georgia’s brand – but also lead to new opportunities in trade and investment. Over 50 years ago, Georgia invested in its first international offices on the other side of the Atlantic and the Pacific. Representatives in these and other strategic locations worldwide promote Georgia abroad and create new avenues for international business in the state.

In just one recent example, the state of Georgia’s Japan Office worked with the Atlanta-based team and local partners to secure Yakult U.S.A.’s second U.S. production facility, bringing $305 million in investment and more than 90 new jobs to Bartow County. This global leader in food and beverage joins the state’s proud Japanese business community that employs more than 40,000 Georgians.

Exports are further evidence of how Georgia’s investments abroad contribute to a healthy economy at home. Markets where Georgia has full-time representatives working for us on the ground accounted for 67 percent of exports in 2023. That includes Japan, which exchanged more than $8.7 billion in bilateral trade with Georgia last year.

Specialists across the Georgia Department of Economic Development (GDEcD) offer tailored assistance for businesses already in Georgia and those looking to move here – from manufacturing to headquarters. This includes the majority of the Department’s International Trade team’s clients, primarily made up of small and medium-sized Georgia businesses that want to increase their international sales. An estimated 87 percent of exporters have less than 500 employees, and we are here to serve these businesses.

A comprehensive export strategy can lead to growth in a company’s employment or physical footprint, and profits from international sales go back to communities through employment wages, taxes, and even direct philanthropy.

GDEcD’s International Trade team provides export support services ranging from market research and trade show access to grant funding for export-related activities. Over the last decade, Georgia’s exports have grown by 26%, a steady increase that stands out compared to other states. And, our Department works across teams to provide businesses with the connections and resources to find solutions and achieve goals.

In Irwin County, Muscadine Products Corporation has leveraged our Georgia Center of Innovation’s AgTech team, our International Trade team, and University of Georgia research to put the world’s largest muscadine vineyard on the global map. Today, Muscadine Products’ goods are on store shelves in Canada, and based on leads from the Supply Side West Trade Show the company is actively working with GDEcD to enter East Asian markets.

Longtime client Trenton Systems in Gwinnett County frequently exhibits at international industry events with the State of Georgia. As orders have increased, Trenton Systems has expanded its footprint, adding square footage and jobs. With manufacturing and production in Lawrenceville and headquarters in Duluth, Trenton Systems is continuing to pursue new opportunities alongside our International Trade team at events such as the upcoming Eurosatory.

Georgia’s infrastructure a great asset

Relied on across Georgia, our connectivity through Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport and our deepwater ports continue to deliver in trade and investment. More than $260 million in coming infrastructure upgrades will allow the Port of Brunswick to accommodate additional automotive and other export business. At 5,000 miles, our rail and highway infrastructure offers more rail miles than any other state in the Southeast. Together with 20,000 miles of federal and state highways, this network makes Georgia a global gateway, moving more than $186 billion in U.S. trade last year. Further, these resources are major selling points when we market the state to deliver the jobs that help Georgians achieve their dreams at home.

A leader among peers, Georgia’s ability to weather economic headwinds is a direct result of our diversified approach to a healthy, resilient economy. As we look to the future, we are harnessing the Georgia’s assets and legacy of visionary strategic investment to create opportunities in every corner of the state.

Lizann Grupalo is the Deputy Commissioner of International Trade at the Georgia Department of Economic Development. An industry veteran with experience in the aviation, hospitality, and food and beverage industries, she oversees the team that supports the expansion of Georgia’s exports.

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