Business in Utah has an increasingly international flavor.
Exports from the Beehive State have doubled in the past five years, and early indications this year show the upward climb is continuing.
"We are a great exporting state," Lew Cramer, president of the World Trade Center Utah, said of the rise. Officials from other states and areas of the country are asking why, he said.
The high price of gold has fueled some of the export growth, Cramer said, but he thinks there is much more to the growth than the rising cost of precious metals. He thinks the high quality of some Utah-made products has also fueled the growth.
Utah exported $13.6 billion worth of goods during 2010 and is on pace to increase that amount this year to more than $16 billion, local trade officials say. That translates to more jobs. Numbers provided by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce suggest Utah's export business currently supports approximately 28,101 jobs in the First Congressional District.
Gold and silver refined in Utah, much of it mined out of state, account for approximately 52 percent of the state's exports, but it hardly stops there. Air bags, medical devices, semiconductors, brine shrimp from Great Salt Lake, exercise equipment, machinery parts for heavy equipment and aircraft, wood shavings and hay are included among the items being shipped from Utah to the far parts of the world.
The Top of Utah has a number of companies that are part of the international growth.
James Pettys, president of Western Hay Company in Ogden, makes no bones about how important exports are to his business mix.
"Without it, we wouldn't be in business," he said.
Western Hay has been exporting for almost 20 years, but Pettys said a learning curve is necessary to make selling overseas work.
"It's extremely, extremely tricky. It's not an easy thing to do," he said.
International demand for hay is spreading, leading to what Pettys calls a "vicious" market. He said much of the increased demand is coming from China, but he notes many Arab countries are adding to that increase. He said there are countries, including Japan, Korea and Thailand, that regularly have a large demand.
Western Hay Co. still sells hay internationally but has expanded its global reach to offer far more, finding small product niches that range from wood shavings to cottonseeds. WHC's reach is to 20 to 25 countries, Pettys said. In 2010, the company's buyers included the Leeward and Windward Islands in the southern Caribbean.
The waters of Great Salt Lake also play a key role in the state's increasing number of exports. The Great Salt Lake Artemia, an Ogden-based group of companies working to produce artemia -- a genus of aquatic crustaceans known as brine shrimp -- from Great Salt Lake, have found the expanding aquaculture market to be a great customer. Brine shrimp from the lake provide feed for the early stages of fish and shrimp in at least 62 countries.
The biggest exporter in the region is Autoliv, which sells car safety systems in 30 countries.
The sale of parts shipped from the Top of Utah goes beyond safety systems for automobiles.
Pacific Tri-Star, which is at 3092 North and 2000 West in Ogden, has been exporting construction equipment from the region since 1991. A company employee said the majority of everything Pacific Tri-Star sells is to overseas buyers.
The export numbers also shows how local an international conflict can be. Distribution Depot Hill, based on Hill Air Force Base, shipped an estimated $2.9 million worth of parts for airplanes and helicopters to Afghanistan in 2010.
Even with the rising numbers, Cramer sees potential for much more. He said the challenge is to bring companies who do not export up to speed on how to sell overseas and to get those who are in international markets to expand to more markets. He said there is a demand for products made in the USA and the current state of the dollar means U.S. products can be priced competitively in the global marketplace.