June 09, 2015

We participated in the Second Annual SelectUSA Summit in DC. This is a national-level engagement intended to connect businesses and investors from around the world with the U.S. economic development organizations at the state, regional, and local levels. The SelectUSA 2015 Investment Summit was hosted by the U.S. Department of Commerce, International Trade Administration, and SelectUSA, as a part of U.S. government-wide initiative to promote direct investment in the United States. 


The Summit brought together top-level corporate executives and investors from the U.S. and around the world, economic development organizations, representatives from across the country, senior White House and Administration officials, subject matter experts, and service providers. The Ministers of Labor, Commerce, Treasury, as well as, President Obama were among the participants. 


Approximately 2600 business representatives from 70 different countries attended the summit. President Obama made it clear that the U.S warmly welcomes investors to operate in the U.S.’s transparent, stable, and open economy. He mentioned that the U.S. is not just the world’s largest market, but it is becoming more competitive. He also stated that one third of all research and development investment is made in the U.S. One of the most important points President Obama made during his speech was that the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services will reform the L-1B non-immigrant visa that allows international companies to temporarily employ workers with specialized knowledge to the United States when launching or conducting operations here. Many investing companies look for this kind of policy guidance when investing in the U.S. 


Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker announced that she will establish a federal advisory committee to provide information on the development and implementation of strategies and programs to attract and retain foreign direct investment in the United States. At the conference, SelectUSA representatives reinforced their continuous work in improving investment tools, enhancing trainings for investors, and expand partnerships with state economic development organizations. This initiative will ensure that state and federal government policies coordinate at all times. 


A new initiative announced during the Summit was the U.S. Cluster Mapping Project (developed in partnership with Harvard University) which is a national economic program that provides over 50 million open data records on industry clusters and regional business environments in the United States to promote economic growth and national competitiveness. Investor or information seekers may refer back to this website anytime and they will be directed to the right agencies. 


There are numerous reasons why the U.S. is still very desirable among investors and entrepreneurs. Companies choose to invest in the U.S because of its huge consumer base and potential to reach to North and South American markets; the rising job market; the strong rule of law and intellectual property protections; world-class universities and global leadership in R&D; stable financial markets and vibrant supply chains; abundant and affordable energy supply; and a vast majority of economic development organizations providing tempting incentives for investors.  


Small businesses will also benefit from the U.S.’s new agenda on foreign investment. Many guest speakers discussed supply chains and advanced manufacturing; tax policy; resources for start-ups; opportunities to innovate together with American universities; and the new energy economy. Moreover, Secretary Tom Vilsack and Governor Susana Martinez spoke about the opportunity in investing in rural America.


SelectUSA provides information to investors as a one stop shop. Since it is a federal agency SelectUSA cannot advice where to invest, but can introduce foreign companies to the economic development corporations in a particular state if the companies have zeroed in on states. SelectUSA President defined the agency as the ombudsman in foreign investment to U.S.; when a foreign investor has a difficulty in the process of investing, SelectUSA can highlight the importance of the case to the right agency, and shorten the waiting period. However, they do not adjudicate the case. SelectUSA also organizes Roadshows where economic development agencies go to foreign countries. 


A very interesting story I heard at the Summit was an Indian mill company which found out after a worldwide research that the production of a 1 kilo of yarn would be cheapest in the U.S. The company ended up opening a factory in North Carolina since this State was able to provide the best incentives in the U.S. 


In another panel Walmart CEO announced that in an effort to boost U.S. production they recently decided to buy $250 billion worth of US made goods. 


Increased interest of foreign companies in the U.S. and the welcoming gestures of the Obama administration including the SelectUSA agency indicates that here was never a better time to invest in the U.S.