Ten Steps to Delivering a Successful Metro Export Plan

Many leaders in states, cities, and metropolitan areas across the country are exploring ways to help their firms tap into expanding markets worldwide to grow jobs at home. This brief serves as a how-to-guide for private, nonprofit, and government leaders in metro areas who are interested in developing effective action-oriented metropolitan export plans and initiatives customized to their region’s unique assets and capacities. It builds on lessons learned from a one-year pilot (2011–2012) where the Metropolitan Policy Program at Brookings collaborated with leaders in four metro areas to develop localized export plans.

The 10 key steps suggested to regions seeking to deliver successful metropolitan export plans are:

Go Metro to Go Global — Markets are regional and export strategies foster regional collaboration in economic development.

Organize for Success — The planning effort must have the stated commitment of local leaders and be well-organized at the outset to create a culture change in economic development practice.

Produce a Data-Driven Market Scan — A credible export plan is built on a solid foundation of data and information about the region’s export performance and potential.

Capture Local Market Insight — At the heart of the local market assessment is direct input from firms and service providers obtained through surveys and one-on-one interviews.

Champion Exports Now — Promoting and communicating the importance of exports to the region’s long-term economic future is critical to ensure the export plan is embraced.

Develop a Customized Export Plan — A clear, easy-to-read document will serve as a strong vehicle for galvanizing stakeholders to act on and support the exports opportunity.

Prepare for Implementation — A detailed implementation (or business) plan that delineates how the export plan will be executed must include details on deliverables, phasing, budgets, and the division of labor among lead organizations.

Identify and Promote Policy Priorities — Metro leaders should articulate and advance a state and federal policy agenda that will foster an environment for enabling the region’s exports to thrive.

Track and Publicize Progress — The metro export team will need to identify metrics that are most realistic to collect locally and dedicate resources to maintaining, analyzing, and reporting progress.

Mainstream Exports into Economic Development — For a region’s economy to fully benefit from international trade, exports must be an integral part of a multi-pronged economic growth agenda that includes innovation, transportation and logistics, and global talent.