In its report on trade activity for 2011, the International Trade Administration reported that some 6,473 Wisconsin-based companies exported $22 billion in merchandise to foreign markets. The Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation reported that between 2010 and 2011, exports from the state increased by 11.4 percent. Small and medium-sized companies, with fewer than 500 employees, made up 88 percent of Wisconsin’s exporters, and generated 26 percent of the state’s total export revenue. The opportunities that exist with these smaller, independent Wisconsin-based companies has gotten the attention of students in the state’s business schools, who are more often seeing the pursuit of an international business major as the best shot at success in the business world of the 21st century.
According to the International Trade Administration’s 2011 report on Wisconsin:
- The state’s largest merchandise export category was machinery, which accounted for $6.7 billion of the state’s total exports that year
- Computers and consumer electronics accounted for $3.2 billion in exports
- Food products accounted for $1.6 billion in exports
- Transportation equipment and chemicals accounted for $1.5 billion in exports each
According to the International Trade Administration, businesses based in three metro areas contributed the most to Wisconsin’s export base:
- Milwaukee-Waukesha-West Allis exported some $6.5 billion in merchandise, accounting for 35.2 percent of Wisconsin’s total merchandise exports
- Madison exported $1.6 billion worth of merchandise
- Racine exported $1.5 billion worth of merchandise
Wisconsin International Trade Partners
The International Trade Administration cites Canada as Wisconsin’s largest export market, having exported $7.1 billion to that nation in 2011, accounting for 32 percent of the state’s total exports that year. Other leading trade partners for Wisconsin-based exporters and the amount of merchandise in dollars they imported from the state in 2011:
- Mexico imported $2 billion
- China imported $1.4 billion
- Germany imported $881 million
- Australia imported $763 million
According to the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation, exports to Australia increased 30.82 percent in 2011 as a result of trade incentives made available to support US automakers.
International Business Jobs in Wisconsin
The International Trade Administration recently released a report showing that foreign-controlled multi-nationals employed 74,600 Wisconsin workers. Many of these multinational companies are based in Canada, the United Kingdom, Germany and Switzerland, and were the primary sources of foreign investment in Wisconsin in 2011. These foreign employers were responsible for 3.2 percent of the state’s total private-industry employment in 2011.
According to the International Trade Administration, export-supported manufacturing jobs account for about 6.5 percent of the state’s employment in the private sector. Of all manufacturing workers in Wisconsin, 19.4 percent depend on exports to foregin markets for their jobs.
Wisconsin is home to an array of domestic and foreign-owned multinational operations across a wide variety of industries. The following are notable as among the state’s major employers of international business professionals:
- Epic Systems produces healthcare software
- Kohler Company manufactures plumbing products, furniture, cabinetry, tile, engines and generators
- Rockwell Automation manufactures industrial automation, power, control and information solutions
- Milwaukee Electric Tool Corporation makes heavy-duty portable electric power tools
Companies like these, with a commanding international export business, rely on a specially trained staff of international business professionals who manage and support their international trade divisions. International business and foreign trade consultants work with global business managers to create strategies that account for the logistical, legal and cultural mandates of international trade. Custom brokers, trade specialists, import/export compliance officers and supply chain managers make certain that goods reach wholesale buyers in foreign markets, international market research analysts and marketing managers work to determine market viability and the best way to appeal to consumers in foreign markets, while accountants familiar with International Financial Reporting Standards manage accounting across a number of different currencies.
Making International Business Contacts in Wisconsin
Wisconsin offers a number of resources to those seeking information about international business opportunities in the state: