Exporting Colorado: Exports tick up, attract new money to state

A polished piece of a tunnel sits on stands in the back workroom at Reynolds Polymer Technology, Inc., 607 Hollingsworth Ave. Several of the tunnel pieces are scheduled to be shipped to China.



According to state officials, in 2012, Colorado exported more than:

■ $114M million in pharmaceutical products globally.

■ $369 million worth of medical equipment globally.

■ $209 million worth of aerospace products globally.

■ $47 million worth of aerospace products to Canadian buyers.

■ $44 million worth of aerospace products to British buyers.

■ $94 million worth of solar cells and solar panels globally.

■ $38 million in thermal control equipment to Hong Kong, Canada, Brazil, Colombia and Saudi Arabia.

■ $46 million in crude oil from petroleum and bituminous minerals to Canada.

■ $43 million in coal to Mexico, Chile, Peru, the Netherlands, Canada and others.

■ $1.2 billion in food products to Canada, Mexico, Japan and other markets.

■ $58 million worth of crop products from Colorado were exported to Mexico, Canada, Indonesia, and other international markets.

Source: Office of Economic Development and International Trade

olorado exports ticked up in manufacturing, agriculture and mining last year, increasing overall sales across the state by $400 million compared to 2012, state officials said last week.

Colorado’s exports of manufactured, agricultural and mineral products increased 6.3 percent in 2013, growing from $8.2 billion in 2012 to $8.6 billion in 2013, the Colorado Office of Economic Development and International Trade said.

Grand Valley growers no doubt contributed to the $1.2 billion in food products Colorado exported last year, but the state report did not break down export numbers at the local level.

Colorado’s 2013 rate of growth in exports exceeded the 2 percent national average for merchandise export growth, according to state officials.

Key merchandise exports for Colorado include industrial machinery, computer and electronic machinery, medical and surgical instruments, and fresh and frozen meat.

Grand Junction-based Western Slope Industries, for example, saw increasing income and sales from exports in 2013 thanks to the equipment it manufactures here and ships across the globe. 

Western Slope Industries makes equipment and parts for the paper-converting industry. Machines used to make milk cartons are manufactured there, among other things, said H. Merritt Kinsey, company president.

Kinsey said the outlook for 2014 looks positive.

Selling a big percentage of his company’s products overseas — as much as 45 percent in recent years — and working with larger companies domestically, helped Western Slope Industries bounce back faster from the recent recession, he said.

Among Colorado’s top 10 exports, aircraft and spacecraft was up 62 percent, wood pulp was up 63 percent and raw hides were up 19 percent, according to the report.

“On our shop floor right now, we have a handful of custom underwater dome rooms and tunnels that will be shipped across the globe,” said Ed Mueck, marketing manager for Reynolds Polymer Technology, a Grand Junction manufacturer of aquariums and acrylic tunnels.

“Each one of these projects helps employ U.S. workers from the manufacturing to the transportation and installation of the acrylic,” Mueck said.

“Quality, U.S.-made products such as ours are a favorite in foreign markets that are overrun with generic imitations,” he said. “As an aquarium builder and designer that serves the international market, the demand for Reynolds Polymer acrylic has been continuously strong overseas.”

Canada retains its position as Colorado’s top export market, buying a record $2 billion in goods in 2013, up 3 percent compared 2012, according to state officials.

Key exports to Canada include engine and motor parts, beef, petroleum and pork.

Mexico retains its position as Colorado’s second-largest export market, reaching $917 million in sales in 2012, an 8 percent increase compared to 2012.

China remained third with $772 million in exports, a 14 percent increase. Japan moved up to fourth at $442 million, followed by the Republic of Korea, Switzerland, the Netherlands and Malaysia.

Investment in leisure and attraction facilities continues to rise within popular tourist destinations in countries such as Dubai, China, and South Korea, Mueck said.

“We are also seeing more underdeveloped countries such as India begin to take an interest in public aquariums and water parks,” he said.

“If you’re a Colorado manufacturer or professional service provider looking to start or expand your international trade efforts, then you will want to use our services,” said Ken Lund, executive director of the Colorado Office of Economic Development and International Trade.

“Our international staff assists companies in obtaining the information, skills, resources and contacts they need to successfully export goods and services worldwide.” Lund said.

These international business consultants provide on-the-ground assistance and market intelligence to Colorado companies from Canada, Mexico, Brazil, the United Kingdom, Ireland, France, Germany, Japan and China.

Each year, the Governor’s Award for Excellence in Exporting recognizes Colorado companies that demonstrate significant achievements in international trade.

This competitive award has been given every May for over 40 years in conjunction with World Trade Month.

“Increasing the export of Colorado’s products and services to global markets has helped revive Colorado’s economy,” Lund said. “We congratulate Colorado businesses and entrepreneurs for their continued success in increasing the state’s exports to new record levels.”


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