Guest post by Vinai Thummalapally, Executive Director, SelectUSA, International Trade Administration
In 2011, President Obama launched SelectUSA, the first-ever U.S. government-wide initiative to attract foreign direct investment (FDI) in the United States, with the hopes that the Department of Commerce would help facilitate both foreign and domestic business relationships and make FDI a diplomatic and foreign policy priority.
We took an enormous step forward three months ago, when the Commerce Department hosted the first-ever SelectUSA Investment Summit in Washington, DC. The summit was such a success that it sold out, and more than 1,300 business and government leaders from nearly 60 countries and economic development organizations from 48 states, the District of Columbia and three territories gathered to learn about the advantages of doing business in the United States and to explore investment opportunities. Perhaps most importantly, the Summit helped match potential investors with economic development organizations to help revitalize American communities and create new job opportunities.
Thankfully, we can continue to build upon the success of the Summit, now that the budget deal has been approved. The agreement will allow up to $7 million to expand and enhance the program, and we at the Commerce Department are pleased to have this extra support to bring more companies to our shores.
In fact, the U.S. has welcomed investment to our shores for centuries. Our market has provided long-term stability and unmatched returns for investors. Today, the United States is the largest recipient of FDI in the world, and in 2012 alone, more than $160 billion dollars of FDI flowed here. Total foreign stock and assets are measured not in billions, but in the trillions of dollars. Clearly, FDI is an important contributor to our economy.
But don’t take my word for it – SelectUSA has already helped bring jobs to the U.S. and foster many business relationships, both foreign and domestic.
For example, the Southern Idaho Economic Development Organization (SIEDO) approached SelectUSA for assistance as they worked with Frulact, a Portugal-based producer of fruit-based ingredients for food. SelectUSA advised SIEDO on the issues that would be critical for the company to consider, while also connecting them directly with our team on the ground in Portugal. After utilizing our advice, SIEDO and Frulact announced plans in October for a state-of-the-art 200,000 square foot facility in Rupert, Idaho, that is expected to employ at least 100 people.
We’re hearing plenty more success stories like this, and the SelectUSA program has proven to be a great “bang for the buck.”
We’re excited to continue enhancing SelectUSA with more congressional funding, and the Department of Commerce is ready to do all it can to connect investors with communities…and to open all avenues to guarantee that America is Open for Business.
After all, as President Obama said in his keynote address at the summit a few months ago, “When you bet on America, that bet pays off.”