The Evansville metro area could be one of the nation's hot spots for export growth in coming years, according to a report released Friday by the U.S. Conference of Mayors.
The report, prepared by IHS Global Insight, was released as part of a U.S. Conference of Mayors meeting on exports being held in Jacksonville, Fla. The group is a nonpartisan organization of cities with populations of 30,000 or more.
According to the report, the total value of exports from the Evansville metro area was $2.7 billion in 2010. That number has the potential to grow to $4.8 billion by 2020, the report says, representing 75.5 percent growth.
"Evansville ranks very well," said IHS economist Karl Kuykendall, a co-author of the study.
In the study, Evansville's potential growth comes in below only four other metros: Parkersburg/Marietta/Vienna in West Virginia and Ohio (77.8 percent potential growth); Kingsport/Bristol in Tennessee and Virginia (77.6 percent); Victoria, Texas (77.5 percent) and Baton Rouge, La. (76.1 percent).
The Indianapolis/Carmel, Ind. metro comes in 11th, with potential growth of 73.5 percent.
Kuykendall said Evansville's potential growth is high because the area exports a lot of chemicals, a category predicted to have high growth overall.
Chemical exports nationwide are predicted to grow 79.5 percent by 2020. The chemicals category includes ethanol, pharmaceuticals, fertilizers, some plastics and some petrochemical and industrial gas products.
In 2010, the study said, chemicals made up 64 percent of Evansville metro area exports.
This "bodes very well" for Evansville's potential export growth, Kuykendall said.
Other top export categories in the Evansville metro area, Kuykendall said, are transportation equipment, representing 18 percent of total exports; and food manufacturing, representing 5 percent of total exports. Transportation equipment includes automobiles, airplanes and boats and components for these vehicles.
In a news release accompanying the study, the U.S. Conference of Mayors highlighted the importance of exports to the overall economy. The group also said the U.S. must make sure its infrastructure is able to support export growth.
"If you're serious about creating jobs, you have to be serious about expanding exports. Ninety-five percent of the world's consumers are outside of the United States. To help businesses get their products from cities across the United States to markets around the world, we need to invest in our roads, bridges, ports and rail systems," Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa said in the release. Villaraigosa also is president of the U.S. Conference of Mayors.