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Manufacturing Growth Drives Region’s Exports (Subscriber Content)

By John Seelmeyer

Lithium-ion batteries — like those produced by Panasonic for Tesla in Storey County — are among the fast-growing categories of exports from Nevada.

The rapid growth of manufacturing as a cornerstone of the Reno-Sparks economy is tying the region more closely to international markets.

Exports from companies in Reno and Sparks totaled $2.4 billion in 2016, the last year for which figures are available, and the region produced about 22 percent of the goods that were exported from Nevada.

And even though the Reno area ranks 113th in population among the nation’s metropolitan areas, the federal International Trade Administration says it ranks 87th in the size of its export trade.

Recent numbers from the U.S. Census Bureau indicate that exports from northern Nevada are likely to grow as more manufacturers locate in the region. In the past year, the number of manufacturing jobs in the Reno-Sparks region increased by 23 percent.

Many of those workers are producing goods that are sold around the world.

For instance, lithium-ion batteries — like those produced by Panasonic for Tesla in Storey County — are among the fast-growing categories of exports from Nevada. In 2015, those batteries accounted for a mere $3 million in exports. In 2018, those exports totaled $131 million.

The gold shipped from Nevada’s mines to vaults in Switzerland continues to be Nevada’s single largest item of export trade, totaling nearly $5 billion in 2018 and accounting for 44.4 percent of the state’s exports, the Census Bureau says.

But small businesses comprise 87 percent of all exporters in the state, the National Association of Manufacturers says.

Groups such as the Nevada District Export Council support those companies as they build international export opportunities.

The goal of the council: “Expanding Nevada’s international marketplace and the health of our state’s overall economy,” says President Robert Boyle.

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