Thank you for having me today and for coming together to partner on expanding our global footprint.
It's been a vitally important and successful partnership, for reasons I will recite in a moment. But at the outset, let me thank you, Paul, and the Chamber and Tom Glynn, Ed Freni and the team at MassPort for working side-by-side with each other and with Secretaries Bialecki and Davey, International Trade Director Richard Elam and Tourism Chief Betsy Wall to better establish Massachusetts as an international business and tourist destination.
Our Commonwealth has so much to offer: world-renowned colleges, universities and research institutions, storied cultural assets, championship sports teams, gorgeous seascapes and landscapes, fabulous local food, and a rich historical treasure trove that can rightfully claim its place as the birthplace of America.
I am, as I hope you know by now, a pro-growth progressive. And I think we here share the view that lasting growth in the 21st century global economy (interestingly, much as it has through much of this Commonwealth's history) will come from our competitiveness in global markets. So we have played to our strengths in education, innovation and infrastructure -- and taken that case to markets around the world.
We are competing and it is working
That's why we've traveled abroad and domestically on trade missions, helping companies make personal, one-on-one connections with new commercial partners or to renew relationships with existing ones. That's why we've brought government and business leaders from overseas into Massachusetts, and into the State House itself. So many of you in the business community and in our administration have participated in these visits, and I thank you for that.
With your help, we have introduced our life sciences initiative to the world and we are now welcoming new life sciences companies every month to the fastest growing biotech super cluster on the planet. Our clean energy sector has seen double digit job growth the past two years. Advanced manufacturing and digital technologies like robotics, gaming and big data are flourishing. And these innovation sectors are seeing success from Greenfield, to the South Coast, and everywhere in between.
And as we've worked to open up opportunities for and attitudes about international trade and investment, we've also opened up Massachusetts to new parts of the world through non-stop flights to Dublin, Madrid, Toronto, the Dominican Republic, Tokyo, Panama City, Istanbul, Dubai and Beijing.
Logan now serves 36 overseas markets with non-stop service, up from 26 a decade ago. We have benefited, of course, from the new generation of aircraft that can fly longer distances from shorter runways. But we've also benefited from working together to make the most compelling business case for new routes.
We're seeing good economic results.
Massachusetts merchandise exports increased 4.6 percent last year to $26.8 billion. This year, our colleges and universities are hosting over 46,000 international students -- an increase of 13 percent over last year.
Logan saw record numbers of travelers in the last three years.
On the domestic side, I have to acknowledge in particular the powerful partnership with JetBlue, which has grown dramatically in recent years to the point where it now carries 26 percent of all passengers at Logan.
International air service is the fastest growing segment of the Logan travel market, up 20 percent in the past 10 years. 5.7 million international travelers passed through Logan last year, making up 1 in 5 passengers. MassPort forecasts international seats to increase by 7.5 percent this year.
In the inaugural year of JAL's non-stop service to and from Tokyo, visitors from Japan to Massachusetts increased by 43 percent, with those visitors spending approximately $108 million in Massachusetts.
Spending by international visitors hit $2.3 billion this past year. Visitor spending currently supports 127,000 Massachusetts jobs and over $1 billion in state and local taxes -- those numbers are up 4 percent from last year.
Both the tourism and commercial trade contribute significantly to our economic strength, obviously. Our economy grew at a rate of 5.5 percent in the 4th quarter of 2013, outpacing the national average of 3.2 percent.
Logan's international terminal is frequently cited as a more efficient and more pleasant entry point than other American airports. Customers experience shorter wait times through immigration and customs compared to other major East Coast airports.
We can do more. I am pleased to announce today that in July MassPort will begin $100 million in renovations focused on better serving international passengers at Logan. The project will include a new post-security connector between terminals E and C, renovations to accommodate expanded international air service, and the installations of self-service kiosks to expedite the processing of passports for those traveling internationally. We expect these renovations to be complete in about 2 years.
And we are paying attention to other MassPort airports as well. This past year we welcomed commercial service back to Worcester Airport, thanks to JetBlue and the leadership of former Lt. Governor Tim Murray. We expect that airport to pump $369 million of economic activity into central Mass over the next ten years.
Massachusetts is opening up -- looking out, not just in -- and that is helping to grow jobs and opportunity for everyone.
Prioritizing high-growth regions of the world
As we go forward, I urge you to continue prioritizing three regions of the world where the innovation economy is strong and getting stronger, because that's where we see the most potential for mutual growth.
First is Asia. In December I traveled to Japan, Hong Kong and Singapore. Five years before I was in China. Let me tell you what we saw.
In a conversation during our visit in January, Prime Minister Abe affirmed that Japan is pursuing a growth strategy similar to our own of investing in education, innovation and infrastructure. However, their experience commercializing innovation is less successful than ours. They are eager to buy what we sell. For example, while there we closed agreements between clean energy companies EnerNOC and Marubeni and between Desalitech and Toyo Engineering.
We have already welcomed a delegation from the Kanagawa Prefecture, specifically interested in our eHealth sector, and we are looking forward to more high-level government visits in the coming months. Our partners in health care are pursuing a collaborative agreement with the National Cancer Center of Japan.
In Singapore, we were joined by representatives of our burgeoning water industry, and now we are working on a formal agreement with Singapore and Massachusetts that will spur bi-lateral economic development, match interests between research institutes and universities, and share best practices.
China, of course, has been an ancient trading partner with Massachusetts and we see all sorts of opportunities -- from the life sciences to the financial industries -- to partner to our mutual benefit in the future.
Slowly, but surely, more Asian innovators are willing to consider Massachusetts, rather than the old habit of choosing the West Coast.
We are also working to ensure that Massachusetts is an increasingly attractive market for the growing amount of tourism coming out of China. According to the United Nations' World Tourism Organization, 100 million Chinese citizens are projected to start traveling internationally by 2015. That's another reason why we are focused on those nonstop flights and are pushing our marketing campaigns in China.
The second region of focus is the Middle East and Israel. We will have nonstop service to Dubai on March 10 and to Istanbul in May. We are still working, with the help of many of you, on the route to Israel.
When I traveled to Israel in 2011, it was obvious to me that Massachusetts and Israel are compatible. We are both centers of innovation, whether by history or of necessity, with economies driven by education and entrepreneurship. For both, our greatest natural resource is brainpower. I learned on that trip, and through my work here at home, that there is an enormous opportunity for collaboration.
Following the mission, Israeli biotech firm EarlySense added jobs and established a U.S. headquarters in Waltham. Israeli company Desalitech, Ltd., a provider of advanced water treatment solution established a U.S. headquarters in Massachusetts. An independent report released last December confirmed the impact of that trade mission by showing that Israel-founded companies in the Commonwealth have grown three times faster than the Commonwealth's economy as a whole.
Istanbul, until its recent political turmoil, was one of the fastest-growing economies in the region. I am convinced that the economic momentum they have enjoyed and their history as a global crossroads will mean the current turmoil will not endure. Memories are long in the Middle East, and they will remember, when things settle down again, who was a steadfast trading partner and friend in troubled times. We need to be seen that way, and take some steps now to position ourselves.
And finally, I want to urge you to pay more attention to the emerging markets in Latin America.
In the past several years I have traveled to Brazil, Chile and Colombia and sat down with their respective presidents, government officials and senior business leaders. Leaving aside the fact that the United States shares time zones and many economic aspirations, there are enormous and promising markets in Latin America for the innovations Massachusetts develops and sells. And yet there is a sense in the region that Latin America is an afterthought. China, Europe, even India are investing deeply in building commercial relationships in the region. American firms, with some stunning local exceptions, have not projected the same presence, and we have every opportunity to change that.
When I traveled last in the region, we solidified already strong relationships that promote collaboration in the areas of clean energy, biotech, education, life sciences and digital technology, and created a new partnership with Latin American Universities and the UMass system. I hope you will build on that.
The point is this. Our strategy is not rhetorical. It's real. We know that in order to strengthen our existing global partners and build new ones, we must open the doors and the dispositions of Massachusetts to the world.
With the world in the midst of a knowledge explosion, capital more globalized than ever and talent trying to be as well, it is important for us to collaborate with innovators, inventors and investors everywhere. Massachusetts is at its best when we're engaged with the world. We've made tremendous progress, and I'm proud of our results thus far. I hope, for the sake of our collective future, that you will keep it up.
Thank you for your partnership, and I look forward to continuing our work together.