SLC Economic Development, Transportation & Cultural Affairs Committee

The topics explored by the Economic Development, Transportation & Cultural Affairs Committee include a number of critical issues relevant to the progress and advancement of the Southern region. As the Southern states continue to diversify their economies, the Committee has studied a number of issues to further its understanding of this diversification process. In addition, the Committee has focused on exploring the role of the arts as a catalyst for economic growth and the fact that a thriving cultural scenario is an important consideration in the relocation and expansion plans of corporations. Such issues as federal transportation plans and their implications for Southern states; competition among states to attract economic investment; attracting and retaining high-tech investment; promoting Southern state exports; high speed rail in the South; promoting biotechnology are recurring topics.


Jeanie Lauer


Vice Chair

Manly Barton


Past Chair

Jeff Mullis



Recent Research

Issue Brief | October 30, 2017

NAFTA Trade Data – SLC States, Canada and Mexico

Roger Moore, Policy Analyst

Download the print version (PDF)

The Southern Legislative Conference (SLC) has studied the centrality of the Southern region’s economic integration with Canada and Mexico since the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) originally was implemented in 1994. After NAFTA’s implementation, the SLC published multiple analyses related to the trade agreement’s impact on the region, including The Influence of the North American Free Trade Agreement on Economic and Social Programs Supported by State Governments in the South; The North American Free Trade Agreement: Changing Economic and Social Programs of Southern States; and NAFTA ’95: A Report Card. The historical context provided by data in SLC’s various publications is essential to understanding the extent to which regional trade has been influenced by NAFTA, and the ways in which it could be impacted if the trade agreement is significantly modified in the months ahead.

As officials from Canada, Mexico and the United States attempt to renegotiate NAFTA’s stipulations, it is instructive for policymakers to understand the current position of SLC states with regard to the export and import of goods with Canada and Mexico, prior to any overhaul of the expansive agreement. Canada and Mexico are important trading partners for SLC member states, meaning any disruption to trade as a result of renegotiation could have significant ramifications across state economies, including in the agriculture, automotive and manufacturing industries.

Since NAFTA’s implementation in 1994, trade between the SLC region and Canada and Mexico has changed dramatically. According to the Office of the United States Trade Representative, national exports and imports to/from Mexico increased by 455 percent and 637 percent, respectively, between 1993 and 2016. Meanwhile, exports and imports to/from Canada increased 165 percent and 150 percent, respectively, during the same period.

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SLC Regional Resource | December 7, 2016

The Case for Cuba

Anne Roberts Brody

The impasse in U.S.-Cuba relations has spanned 10 U.S. presidents, a failed invasion attempt, a nuclear missile crisis and witnessed countless asylum seekers. The tumultuous relationship, which has its roots in the Cold War, is characterized by a dual-pronged U.S. policy emphasizing economic and diplomatic isolation of the island nation.

Despite ongoing economic sanctions, the United States has emerged as a major exporter of agricultural goods to Cuba, which imports up to 80 percent of its food. Given Cuba's geographic and economic position, states in the Southern region of the United States have competitive export advantages in terms of production, quality, logistics and proximity. This SLC Regional Resource examines existing and future agricultural export opportunities for member states in the Southern Legislative Conference.

Policy Analysis | September 14, 2016

What states export the most agricultural products to Cuba?

Anne Roberts Brody

Cuba, a nation of approximately 11 million people, is a food-insecure country, importing up to 80 percent of its food. The nation’s primary imports in 2015 included rice (14 percent), poultry (13 percent), dairy (12 percent), soy products (12 percent) and wheat (12 percent).

Agricultural exports to Cuba were authorized under the Trade Sanctions Reform and Export Enhancement Act of 2000. Given Cuba’s economic and geographic position, Southern states have become leaders in agricultural exports to Cuba, comprising nine of the top 10 exporting states in 2015.

Reinforcing their dominant position, Southern states also are leaders in overall exports of Cuba’s most-imported agricultural products: rice and poultry. In 2014, four Southern states were among the top five rice-exporting states (Arkansas, at $809.3 million; California, at $644 million; Louisiana, at $258.9 million; Missouri, at $96.6 million; and Texas, at $92.8 million). Similarly, Southern states constituted all five of the top broiler-exporting states in 2014 (Georgia, at $596.3 million; Alabama, at $478 million; North Carolina, at $477.5 million; Arkansas, at $475 million; Mississippi, at $356.2 million; and Texas, at $280.5 million).

Top 20 States for Agricultural Exports to Cuba (2006-2015)

(ranking based on total agricultural exports in 2015)

U.S. State 2006 2009 Percent Change 2012 Percent Change 2015 Percent Change
Virginia 25,916 56,941 119.7% 65,613 15.2% 41,629 -36.6%
Georgia 16,767 42,528 153.6% 36,412 -14.4% 30,924 -15.1%
Florida 24,911 28,151 13.0% 68,358 142.8% 29,874 -56.3%

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More SLC Research into Industry & Commerce

Policy Analysis | January 29, 2016

Vehicle Sales Soar to Record Levels in 2015

SLC Regional Resource | January 12, 2016

Inland Ports and Waterways in the SLC Member States

Policy Analysis | September 10, 2015

Manufacturing Products Top SLC State Exports in 2014

Issue Alert | June 25, 2014

U.S. Agriculture Exports: Latest Trends

SLC Regional Resource | February 27, 2014

Aeronautics in the SLC States: Cleared for Takeoff

SLC Regional Resource | November 19, 2013

Tire Manufacturing: Southern States Roll to the Top

SLC Regional Resource | July 11, 2013

Workforce Development in the SLC States

Policy Analysis | June 8, 2011

Manufacturing Jobs in the South

SLC Special Series Report | June 1, 2010

The Expansion of the Panama Canal and SLC State Ports

Article | July 1, 2008

Auto: The Resilient South

Presentation | April 30, 2004

Ports in the South

SLC Special Series Report | November 1, 2003

The Drive to Move South

SLC Regional Resource | February 1, 2003

Update on Competition in the Telecommunications Industry

Presentation | September 23, 2002

Delivering the Goods: Ports in the South

SLC Regional Resource | June 1, 2002

A Review of Southern States' No-Call Registries

SLC Regional Resource | February 1, 2001

Telecommunications Competition in Southern States

SLC Regional Resource | August 1, 2000

International Trade and Agriculture