Silicon Valley Microelectronics, Inc. (SVM)

County the No. 3 exporter in nation


35% increase: Silicon Valley trails only New York, Detroit in latest statistics.

More than ever, Silicon Valley has what the world wants.
Driven by insatiable foreign demand for the region's computers, chips, software and machinery, exports from Santa Clara County increased 35 percent last year to nearly $27 billion. That ranked third among U.S. metropolitan areas, only marginally behind Detroit and New York.

Even for a region that basks in superlatives, the figures released Wednesday were extraordinary. Consider these comparisons:

  • Exports from the San Jose metropolitan area, population 1.6 million, exceeded those from Los Angeles, population 9 million, and Chicago, population 7.7 million. (The San Jose metropolitan area is defined as Santa Clara County.)
  • They outranked overseas shipments from the Boston and Seattle metropolitan areas combined. In fact, the county exported more goods than all but five states.
  • The jump in exports from Santa Clara County alone last year was greater than total exports from Dallas, San Diego or Atlanta.

'If this trend continues, next year San Jose will be No. 1 in metropolitan areas in the country in terms of exports/' said U.S. Commerce Secretary Mickey Kantor, who released the statistics at Altera Corp. in San Jose.

So far, the trend is continuing. Exports from California increased 13.5 percent in the first half of this year from the same period in 1995. Regional breakdowns are not available, but high-tech goods posted the largest increases.

Small companies prosper
Altera is symbolic of the strong overseas demand for local products. A maker of programmable computer chips, about half of the company's $400 million in annual sales is overseas, mostly to Asia. Its exports doubled from 1994 to 1995.

Altera accounts for 40 percent of the programmable chips sold in Japan, more than any other company, said Pete Smyth, vice president for sales.

That story is repeated many times across Silicon Valley. Not surprisingly, high-tech products accounted for more than 90 percent of the county's exports last year. About 60 percent of those goods went to Asia, with Japan the largest single destination. Another 22 percent went to Europe, and about 11 percent to Canada.

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