Montana’s businesses have forged strong ties with foreign markets and trade partners around the globe. According to the International Trade Administration, some 752 Montana-based companies exported finished goods and raw materials to international markets in 2010. Companies of all sizes took advantage of the fact that 95% of consumers in the world live outside of the United States, as is indicated by the fact that 87% of the Montana-based companies involved in exporting were classified as small to medium sized businesses with fewer than 500 employees. In fact, over a half of all exports came from these smaller enterprises in 2009, the last year the administration published its report. This has helped highlight the accessibility of international commerce, and the options available to Montana’s college students majoring in international business, as both large multi-nationals and smaller state-based firms will continue to seek talent in the coming years.
Montana’s International Trade Partners
In 2010 alone, Montana exported $1.4 billion in goods and services. Canada is currently Montana’s number one trade partner, importing $506 million in Montana-produced merchandise and materials in 2010.
The Business Roundtable, an association made up of corporate executives from America’s largest corporations, notes that Korea is one of Montana’s fastest growing trade partners. Trade with Korea increased almost eight-fold in five years, from $24 million in 2005 to $187 million in 2010. Montana has a healthy trade partnership with other Asian nations like China, which imported $123 million in goods from the state in 2010, followed by Japan and Taiwan, which imported Montana-produced goods totalling $110 million and $93 million respectively that year.
International Business Jobs in Montana
Foreign-controlled companies are a major boon to Montana’s economy, injecting massive amounts of previously inaccessible capitol, which has helped create well-paying jobs in the state. In a 2010 report released by the Business Roundtable, it was shown that nearly one in five jobs in Montana depend on foreign trade, which accounts for more than 100,000 workers in the state. Also, Montana-based companies involved in the production of goods for export paid an average of 18% more than non-exporting manufactures.
Stillwater Mining of Billings is a major U.S. affiliate of a foreign-owned company with a significant presence in the state. Stillwater engages in the extraction, smelting and export of palladium, platinum and related metals. In 2003, Russian mining company Norilsk Nickel bought a majority stake in struggling Stillwater Mining, allowing it to pay down debt and strengthen its holdings. Stillwater now employs more than 1,500 Montana residents in Billings, East Boulder, Columbus and Nye, generating over $500 million per year in gross revenue.
Norway’s Renewable Energy Corporation (REC) is a leading manufacturer of high purity silicon materials used in microchips and processors. REC Group has over 4,000 employees worldwide and over 850 employees between its two US-based plants, one of which is in Butte.
These corporations will continue to need global managers, international business consultants, accountants familiar with the International Financial Reporting Standards, trade specialists and other international business professionals to help them thrive in the globalized economy of the 21st century.
Making International Business Contacts in Montana
Montana offers resources for those seeking information about international business: