Metro Toledo export industry grows by record $1.4 billion

TOLEDO (AP) — Helped by a favorable location for transportation and agricultural commerce, the metropolitan Toledo area has seen a rise in the value of its exports by a record $1.4 billion.

The value of goods and services exported surged by more than 41 percent last year, making the region one of the fastest-growing export markets in the country, The Blade newspaper ( reported.

“Pretty much anywhere you can imagine, we have companies selling there right now and doing well,” said Colleen Kardasz, director of the International Trade Assistance Center at the Toledo Regional Chamber of Commerce.

Overall, metro Toledo ranked 62nd in the country in exports last year, totaling more than $4.7 billion. Cincinnati ranked first in Ohio, exporting more than $22 billion — good for 14th in the nation. Toledo ranked fourth in Ohio.

It was the city’s fifth consecutive year of growth.

Experts said Toledo’s access to rails, ships, trucks, a Lake Erie port and two main U.S. highways facilitate exporting. The region also has an established support system helping to foster overseas growth.

The report didn’t detail specific products, but officials said transportation equipment, agricultural products and machinery were among the top categories.

“The Toledo area is kind of where agricultural commerce meets manufacturing,” said Joe Cappel, vice president of business development at the Toledo-Lucas County Port Authority. “We have a lot of corn, and wheat, and soybeans that leave the Port of Toledo and go out all over the world actually. We’re seeing soybeans go as far as Asia and Northern Europe.”

The data also include exported services.

International sales have become a significant form of diversification following the Great Recession. For example, a company that sold clamps to the automotive industry might now be looking at Mexico’s growing aerospace industry, Kardasz said.

“To not look internationally at this point could be potentially detrimental to a company,” she said. “You’re ignoring a very large number of potential customers. It’s not for everyone; it’s not going to work for every company, but it’s definitely worth exploring.”

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