Iconic Products of 11 States


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I’ve been around enough friends from Wisconsin to know that when they reveal where they grew up, people always bring up that Wisconsin is the cheese capital. And as someone from Kansas, I’m not only used to being asked if The Wizard of Oz is a true representation of the state, but also how it feels to live somewhere surrounded by nothing but fields of wheat — they obviously forgot about the cows. 

Many states have something they’re known for producing, but not all of them are as obvious as Wisconsin and Kansas. Below, we dive into what a few states are known for manufacturing. 

Arizona: Copper

Known as the Copper State, Arizona accounts for almost two-thirds of the nation’s copper supply. There are more than 27 copper mines in Arizona that produce between 23 and 632 million pounds of copper every year. 

In 2019, the U.S. Congress approved a bill to begin the development of a massive copper mine — coined The Resolution Copper Project — in Phoenix, Arizona. The proprietor of the project, Resolution Copper, is currently waiting for approval to begin mining. Once production is underway, the company could become the largest copper producer in North America with the capacity to meet up to 25% of the nation’s copper demand every year. 

Deleware: Corporations 

The first state established in the U.S. holds a number of names, including the “Corporate Capital of the World.” Delaware is home to 60% of the many Fortune 500 Companies, and houses more than half of all publicly traded companies. 

You may be wondering why Deleware claims so many corporations. It’s because the state has a very business-friendly reputation with a special court, the Court of Chancery, that can head corporate law disputes without a jury present. This means disputes can be settled much faster and are handled by experts in corporate law. 

The state also has a very fair corporate tax rate, which definitely helps Delaware continue to generate 25% of its general fund revenue directly from the incorporation business.  

Illinois: Farm Equipment

Did you know that manufacturing accounts for 12% of the state of Illinois’ economic revenue? If you’re not from the busy, skyscraper-filled city of Chicago, it may be a bit more obvious that Illinois is one of the U.S.’s major manufacturing hubs. 

Farm equipment leader John Deere and construction machinery company Caterpillar both began in Illinois. And as of 2019, the state had 72,000 farms that covered 2 million acres, or 75% of the state’s total land. 

Illinois is the fifth largest exporter in the U.S. and machinery is the second largest sector in the state. In 2020, Illinois exported more than $50 billion worth of goods.

Michigan: Cars

It’s time to race to the motor city of the U.S.: Detroit, Michigan. It’s no surprise that Michigan is widely known for its production of auto parts and vehicles, as it holds major automotive headquarters run by Ford and General Motors.  

While there were supply chain holdups and delays in chip production over the last few years, cars remain among the top U.S. exports. In 2020, the U.S. exported more than $1.4 trillion worth of goods — more than 7% were vehicle exports. 

Following South Carolina, Michigan ranked #2 in car exports. In 2020, nearly $8 billion worth of vehicle exports came out of the state. While the industry continues to face supply chain challenges and labor shortages today, the automotive sector anticipates a full recovery this year. 

Montana: Precious Metals 

During the Gold Rush in the 19th century, Montana was a hot commodity. The state is the only producer of palladium and platinum and is also a leader in talc. 

Coined “the Treasure State,” due to its rich gold and silver deposits in the 1800s, copper is still mined in the state in abundance. There are currently 26 minerals being mined in 30 of Montana’s 56 counties. The most common minerals are gold, silver, copper, lead, and zinc. 

As of 2021, there were 4,913 gold mines across the state. 

New York: Apples 

Sure, New York has world-class restaurants and tasty tap water, but the state is actually known for producing apples. The state grows more than 10 million apple trees — beating out every other state except Washington. 

A number of different apple varieties were also invented in the state, including Cortland, Macoun, and Empire. There are around 600 commercial apple growers in the state and more than 29.5 million bushels are harvested annually on 55,000 acres. 

From agricultural jobs to apple processing, the apple industry in the state supplies employment for thousands of residents, both directly and indirectly.  It’s no wonder the apple is New York’s official state fruit.

Ohio: Rubber

Ohio, considered the Rubber Capital of the World, is actually the largest producer of both plastics and rubber in the U.S. The city of Akron was once home to major tire manufacturer Goodyear.

The city has a robust history with rubber, as Goodyear discovered how to vulcanize or harden rubber in Akron. While the city’s rubber production isn’t as robust as it once was, its rubber and plastic companies continue to employ more than 31,000 people.  

Fun fact: Ohio also has the largest bioscience sector in the Midwest.   

Oklahoma: Wind Power 

While Oklahoma has a strong oil industry — accounting for more than 7% of the country’s oil production — it stands out even more in wind power and other renewable energy production. 

More than 15% of the state’s total electricity is generated from windmills and it currently has over 10,000 megawatts of wind power, which makes up 85% of Oklahoma’s total generating capacity. In 2021, a number of wind energy projects entered the state and added more than 1,000 megawatts of power. And in March of this year, the Traverse Wind Project, with 998 megawatts of power, became fully operational in the state. 

Oregon: Sneakers 

The most iconic sneaker company in the world originated in Oregon. Yep, it’s Nike. 

Phil Knight, a student at the University of Oregon and co-creator of Nike, was first inspired to create optimal running shoes by track and field coach Bill Bowerman. He tried a pair of Bowerman’s innovative shoes, and it’s been said that the shoes worked so well that a teammate of Knight’s used them to win gold in a 400-meter dash in the Olympics. 

The U.S. has the largest footwear market in the world and accounted for more than $91 billion in revenue in 2019. Nike’s annual revenue for 2021 was $44.5 billion, and, as of February 2022, it has risen to over $46 billion. 

Pennsylvania: Steel 

If you’re a sports fan — or even if you’re not — you have probably heard of the Pittsburgh Steelers. But did you know the football team’s name is a testament to the major history of steel in the state? 

The “smoke and steel” of Pennsylvania contributed to the construction of iconic landmarks like the Empire State Building and the Brooklyn Bridge. And according to an economic impact study by the American Iron and Steel Institute, the Pennsylvania steel industry employs more than 34,000 people. 

The Pennsylvania steel industry ranks in the top three in the U.S. for wages, direct jobs, output, and taxes paid and contributed $2.2 billion in state and local tax revenue in 2019. 

Washington: Airplanes 

Washington is also known as the “Evergreen State.” In 2020, the state exported $41.3 billion worth of goods and ranks among the top five largest exporters in the country. 

Aircraft parts, including engines, account for nearly 20% of the state’s total exports and are the most exported goods in Washington. While the state is no longer the headquarters of major aerospace company Boeing, the company is still one of the largest private employers in the state, employing around 56,000 people. 

A new report also found that Washington’s space industry has doubled its economic impact in recent years. Growth can be partially contributed to Blue Origin developing launch vehicles, as well as advancements in satellite manufacturing. 

Image Credit: Slatan / Shutterstock.com

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