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Do Exports Play a Significant Role in Asheville Metro’s Economy?

Johnson Price Sprinkle PA (JPS) accounting firm was curious about the significance of exports in the Asheville metropolitan area. Is the four-county Asheville metro (Buncombe, Haywood, Henderson and Madison) a global exporter? Do exports play a significant role in its economy?

In this era of globalization many are concerned about the role foreign exports play in the economy. In 2017 (the most current available data) the U.S. exported $2.3 trillion worth of goods and services to other counties, amounting to 12.1 percent of the nation’s total gross domestic product (GDP).

Metro level exports are tracked by the International Trade Administration (ITA), an agency of the Department of Commerce. Annually the ITA publishes details on the exports of goods from 380 U.S. metros to foreign countries. Goods include merchandise such as food, petroleum and manufactured products. Unfortunately, the export of services from metros is not tracked by the ITA. However, they likely play a very minor role in Asheville metro’s total exports, as they mostly consist of international travel, international financial services and charges for intellectual property.

In 2017, companies in the Asheville metro exported $1.09 billion worth of goods to foreign counties. Four manufacturing industries comprised 60 percent of the metro’s total exports; led by Transportation Equipment Manufacturing and Electrical Equipment Manufacturing, who together exported $355.2 million from the Asheville metro (see chart below).

Asheville Metro
Exports by Major Products

Asheville Metro Exports By Major Products _JPSSource: International Trade Administration

Among North Carolina’s fifteen metros, Asheville metro places eighth for export value in 2017 (see chart below). Asheville metro’s exports accounted for 3.4 percent of North Carolina’s total exports in 2017.

North Carolina Metros
2017 Exports

NC Metros 2017 Exports _ JPS

*Includes only exports from counties in North Carolina.
Source: International Trade Administration

Do exports play a significant role in Asheville metro’s economy? Asheville metro’s total GDP in 2017 equaled $20.2 billion, so at $1.09 billion, exports accounted for 5.4 percent of its GDP. That would place Asheville ninth among North Carolina’s metros for the impact of exports on their local economies (see chart below).

North Carolina Metros
2017 Exports as Percent of GDP

NC Metros 2017 Exports as Percent of GDP _ JPS

Source: International Trade Administration, U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis

Between 2005 and 2017 the contribution of exports has ranged from a high of 7.1 percent of Asheville metro’s economy in 2013 to a low of 5.0 percent in 2009 (see chart below). The role of exports has declined annually in the last four consecutive years.

Asheville Metro
Exports as Percent of GDPAsheville Metro Exports as Percent of GDP _ JPS

Source: International Trade Administration, U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis

So, do exports play a significant role in Asheville metro’s economy? Yes, $1.09 billion worth of exports represents 5.4 percent of the metro’s economy. By comparison, the value of all visitor accommodations and restaurants in Asheville metro totals $1.03 billion or 5.1 percent of the local economy. In North Carolina, exports do have a greater economic impact in many other metros. And while exports continue to play a significant role in the Asheville metropolitan, the last four consecutive years have shown a decline.

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Johnson Price Sprinkle PA is a 60+ year old accounting firm providing small to middle market businesses with tax, consulting, assurance, and technology solution services. With offices in Asheville, Boone, and Marion, NC, our CPAs and JPS team strive to provide personal service alongside technical expertise resulting in our clients’ long-term financial success. >Be Greater