Earlier this week, I traveled to Cincinnati, Ohio, where local manufacturers are creating jobs as they boost exports.
Cincinnati has been a top exporter and home to many manufacturers - big and small - who increasingly sell their products overseas. In recent months, the city's manufacturing sector has attracted new capital investments and created thousands of jobs. I met with local manufacturers to see their businesses up close and discuss how we can work together to continue to expand opportunities for American workers and businesses.
First, I toured Mesa Industries, a firm owned by a Cincinnati entrepreneur. It currently employs 72 people, exporting state-of-the-art products for the construction and petroleum industries to 50 countries. The company's international sales have increased from 11 percent in 2002 to 52 percent today, and they continue to look for more new markets. Asia is already a key market for them, and Mesa's senior management team is planning their first trip to Brazil to explore business opportunities there.
I also toured the Formica Corporation, which has a sprawling plant near Cincinnati producing laminate products for kitchens, bathrooms, and offices selling primarily to the U.S., Canada and Mexico. Coming back from bankruptcy reorganization in 2004, Formica was acquired by New Zealand-based Fletcher Industries and has been building the business since. Now employing 450 people, Formica shows that reinvestment in the original U.S. plant allowed it to become, once again, a company that relies on its export business for its bottom line. The plant manager told me they have now gone through their existing employee recall list so everyone who wanted to come back is once again on the job and they are now expanding into new hires - a trend they expect to continue.
The business leaders I met with in Cincinnati are on the front lines of the President's effort to double our exports in five years. Our ability to increase our exports has never been as critical to our economy as it is today. We're still fighting back from the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression, which cost us more than 8 million jobs. While there's still more work to do, the economy has added private sector jobs for 28 straight months, for a total of 4.4 million jobs during that period. Exports are helping us come back.
To support these workers and businesses, President Obama is committed to promoting exports - especially for small businesses - and opening new markets while also using all available enforcement tools to effectively ensure our trading partners play by the rules. The President has signed new trade agreements with Panama, Colombia, Korea and launched negotiations on a Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement. We have also pursued WTO challenges at twice the prevailing rate of the prior administrations.
And our approach is working. For the first time in decades, consulting companies are highlighting the attraction for global companies of bringing jobs to the United States, or "insourcing" their operations-citing heightened competitiveness relative to other markets. And employment in U.S. manufacturing has increased month after month, adding more than 500,000 new jobs since 2010.
Working with our dynamic industries, I am confident we can meet the President's goal, supporting a stronger recovery and more robust domestic economy.