Goods and services exported from Knoxville to markets throughout the nation and the world totaled more than $4 billion in 2012, and accounted for nearly 13 percent of East Tennessee's total exports.
Nonprofit think tank The Brookings Institution looked at economic data for 100 metro areas around the U.S. Its report, Export Nation 2013, ranked the Knoxville metro area 73rd among the group of 100, but the more significant findings showed big growth in the area's exports.
The auto industry contributed the biggest gains in exports since 2009, according to the report. Exports of motor vehicle parts grew $276 million from 2009 to 2012, with auto production and fabricated metal not far behind. Perhaps not surprisingly, those same three categories are now the Knoxville area's biggest exports overall, accounting for more than $1.2 billion of the region's export value. The results also underscore a manufacturing renaissance in Tennessee that economists have been tracking since 2012, and expect to continue for several more years.
In the realm of services, financial services, management and consulting, restaurants and retail combined for $447 million.
Among Tennessee's other major cities, Nashville's exports ranked 37th out of 100, Memphis ranked 51st and Chattanooga came in 81st.