Global Trade June/July 2012 : Page 84

eCOnOMICDevelOPMenT FrOM rUSt BeL t tO expOrtING GIaNt ALONG THE OHIO RIVER VALLEY, AMERICA’S ORIGINAL INDUSTRIAL GIANTS ARE BACK [ BY WARREN STRUGATCH ] lowing westward from Pittsburgh along a winding path nearly a thousand miles, plied by sturdy barges and laden with almost a third of America’s inbound cargo tonnage, the Ohio River spills into the churning Mississippi in southern Illinois, connecting the northeast with the Midwest and forming America’s first industrial corridor—and one that is still among the most vital. Defined by the snaking progress of what Thomas Jefferson called F America’s most beautiful river, the Ohio is today at the center of a resurgent and diversified industrial expansion. At times high-tech and at other times old school, its manufacturers care little for categories; they are too busy making, selling and shipping. In Pittsburgh, young graduates of top-rated local schools like Carnegie Mellon create video games for global markets, an export category rising fast toward the levels of historical export leaders like mining and metal products. In West Virginia, coal miners vie with plastics manufacturers in ringing up record export sales. In Cincinnati, engineers continue to design and factory workers continue to produce a growing percentage of the results designated for sale abroad. If the Ohio River Valley were defined as a single metropolitan area, it would rank fourth among the nation’s exporting hubs, behind New York/New Jersey, Houston and Los Angeles/Long Beach—and a whisker ahead of Miami. Companies based in and around Cincinnati, Pittsburgh and Louisville collectively exported over $60 billion in 2010, the most recent year for which International Trade Administration numbers are available. Add to those numbers exports that move through maritime ports in other states—New Orleans, Virginia, Maryland and New York—and the Valley might indeed rank among the top three. A TOP ExPORTING REGION Perhaps the most intriguing business headline of last year was the one reading, “West Virginia Leads Nation 84 Global Trade JUNE•JULY 2012


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