Alabama's exports way up for 2008

MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WSFA) -- In the midst of tough financial times, new sales numbers show a jump in export business throughout Alabama.

Countries like Germany and Canada, according to a report released by the Alabama Development Office, bought $15.8 billion worth of goods in 2008.

"In this economy, we're very excited to see that we're doing very well.  Our companies have been very competitive," explained Hilda Lockhart, International Trade Manager for ADO.

It isn't all good news, however.  Some industries fell victim to the stumbling economy.

Various reports show agricultural products and electronics figures dropped.

Don't forget the state's #1 export, labeled as "Vehicles, Except Railway Or Tramway, And Parts Etc.," which saw a $465 million shortfall last year.

Montgomery's Hyundai plant provides products to Canada and Puerto Rico. The company says it's working to keep cars flowing out of the country.

"There's things that we have to do to say, 'Hey, we're moving forward.'  It's going to be interesting during the next 12 to 18 months, but we're going to do what we can to better position ourselves long term," explained Robert Burns, Hyundai's spokesman.

In the short term, however, a flexible workweek is the name of the game--cutting back while forecasting better days ahead.

"January is certainly reflective of that with a 14% increase versus last year, and we're cautiously optimistic in the coming months that we'll see that trend continue," Burns said.

With the future of the country's economy still unclear, state officials hope more local industries will hang tough.

"My phone's been ringing a lot more from companies looking to find new markets because of the slowdown, and we're trying to help them do that," Lockhart explained.