Bay Area companies face economic slowdown

October 7, 2008 7:06:33 PM PDT
Over 2,000 cargo ships call on the Port of Oakland each year. While they are offloading toys and apparel made in Asia they are also returning to Asia with exports of American made goods.

The Bay Area exports $48 billion of goods each year, produced by 59,000 companies; 730,000 jobs statewide are tied to exports.

So what happens now, as the global economy weakens?

Sean Randolph of the Bay Area Council Economic Institute just completed a study of Bay Area export activity.

Read the report: International Trade and the Bay Area Economy

"The coming year, trade is not going to be the source of growth that we thought it might be," Randolph said. "However, it's still going to be positive for us. One reason is that the rest of the world economy is likely to continue to better than the U.S. economy."

Of all Bay Area exports, 45 percent head to Asia, 25 percent to U.S. NAFTA partners (Canada and Mexico) and 21 percent to Europe.

Groxis is a small San Francisco company that exports to all three regions. It makes an advanced search tool called Grokker that finds and visualizes Internet-based information. With 40 percent of its sales to overseas customers, the company's growth is tied to the global economy.

"Whether you can look to one region as the savior, I doubt it, but when you can look broadly at the world economy and have a few roots planted with customers in various regions, if one goes down, the other will be buoyed up, and we can take advantage of that," Groxis president and CEO Randy Marcinko said.

With that in mind, Grokker is available in 12 languages, with more to come as the company expands globally.

"We'd like to see if all these small companies, some of them grow and be very successful and become large companies and major employers," Randolph said.

With all the turbulence in the global economy right now, there is no way to guarantee what will be happening in a few months, but Groxis hoping a year from now, the company might grow from 15 to 20 employees.


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