Today, U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker, U.S. Secretary of Labor Thomas Perez, Senior Advisor to the President Valerie Jarrett, and Director of the National Economic Council Jeff Zients hosted a delegation of Swiss business leaders in the Roosevelt Room at the White House. The delegation, led by Vice President of the Swiss Federal Council Johann Schneider-Ammann and U.S. Ambassador to Switzerland and Liechtenstein Suzan LeVine, included chief executive officers and senior executives from Alevo Group, Bühler, the Kudelski Group, Nestlé, Novartis, Pilatus Aircraft, Reha Technology, and Zurich Insurance Group.
This delegation was invited to the United States as part of an Administration-wide effort to expand job-creating foreign direct investment (FDI) through the SelectUSA
program, which is housed within the Department of Commerce. Several of these Swiss companies have also committed to attending the 2015 SelectUSA Investment Summit
, to be held in March.
The eight executives announced plans to invest approximately $3 billion in their U.S. operations starting in 2015, reflecting strong and persistent growth of Swiss investment in the U.S. economy. Swiss foreign direct investment (FDI) into the United States grew by 115 percent from 2009-2013, from $65 to $140 billion.
Roundtable participants also discussed the importance of job-driven workforce training initiatives. Apprenticeships, which allow workers to “earn while you learn,” have long been recognized as one of the best training models for skilled trades, but have been underutilized in the United States. Several European countries, including Switzerland, have incorporated the apprenticeship model as a major tool to develop a skilled workforce. Today’s meeting provided an opportunity for Swiss business leaders to share their experiences with apprenticeships and how that model can be expanded in the United States. These consultations, as well as a recently announced $100 million grant competition, are meant to achieve President Obama’s goal of doubling the number of registered apprenticeships in the U.S. over the next five years. By partnering with Swiss companies to expand and start new registered apprenticeship programs, we will strengthen the pipeline of U.S. workers for in-demand jobs.
Switzerland is the 6th largest source of FDI into the U.S. with a total $140 billion invested in 2013. U.S. subsidiaries of Swiss firms employed more than 472,200 U.S. workers in 2012, with an average annual salary of $100,000. Swiss investors are also the top international source of research and development (R&D) investment in the United States, spending nearly $9.4 billion in 2012, considerably ahead of the next largest source.
Companies attending the roundtable announced new capital investments and plans for adding new American jobs in 2015:
- Nestlé announced significant progress on their $53 million global Product Technology Center in Solon, Ohio, dedicated to frozen and chilled foods research. The 18 acre facility, which is expected to open this year, will complement Nestlé’s existing research and development facility in Solon, and will house offices and labs for about 100 scientific, professional and technical staff working on the cutting edge of food research.
- Zurich North America outlined plans to build a new 753,300-square-foot, $330 million headquarters in Schaumburg, Illinois. The site will host more than 2,500 of Zurich’s 8,000+ U.S.-based employees and contractors, and is one of the largest build-to-suit projects in the United States.
- Pilatus Aircraft announced its intention to significantly expand its Broomfield, Colorado, based operation in support of their new product, the PC-24.
- Alevo Energy announced considerable progress in their efforts to convert a former cigarette plant in Concord, North Carolina into a 3.5 million square-foot lithium-iron-phosphate battery plant. Alevo’s new plant, which will produce utility-sized batteries to store wasted electricity from the Grid, is expected to vastly accelerate investment into the region and to bring thousands of jobs to North Carolina.
Companies also committed to expanding apprenticeships in the United States, a proven program to create high-quality middle class jobs:
- Nestlé, Bühler, Pilatus, Zurich Insurance Group and Kudelski Group all made commitments to implement or expand core components of their successful Swiss apprenticeship programs into their U.S. facilities.
- Nestlé committed to formalizing and accelerating their existing apprenticeship program, and to widening that program’s impact in as many Nestle facilities as possible. As part of that effort, Nestlé agreed to work with the U.S. Department of Labor and the U.S. Department of Education to implement a set of innovative workforce development pilot programs in select Nestlé facilities, supporting Nestlé’s commitment to become a leader in the Apprenticeship USA program.
- Zurich announced a commitment to explore a U.S. apprenticeship program for Zurich facilities in the United States, particularly in skilled positions such as underwriting assistants and claims assistants. As part of that commitment, Zurich expressed the intention to explore a professional skills-development partnership with learning institutions and/or other businesses in the insurance industry.
- Alevo discussed further developing their “Customized Training Program for Alevo,” run in partnership with Rowan-Caburrus Community College and within the North Carolina General Assembly and North Carolina Community College System. Designed to create up to 750 positions for people to learn advanced manufacturing skills, Alevo’s professional training program will develop future employees at Alevo’s Concord facility, while also supporting off-the-job training and skills development at the Rowan-Caburrus Community College.
- As part of their U.S. expansion, Pilatus announced it will establish a series of new apprenticeship and professional training opportunities.
- The Kudelski Group, with facilities in Silicon Valley, Atlanta, and Denver, announced its commitment to establish a program for IT and business administration apprenticeships across its three main U.S. locations. To further hone global fluency, the Kudelski Group plans to provide apprentices with the opportunity to spend a portion of their training in Switzerland or at another of the Kudelski Group’s worldwide facilities.
SelectUSA and the 2015 SelectUSA Investment Summit
SelectUSA is the U.S. government-wide program to promote and facilitate business investment into the United States. Housed within the Department of Commerce, SelectUSA leads an Interagency Investment Working Group to ensure investors get the answers and assistance they need across the federal government in support of their current or prospective U.S. investments. SelectUSA provides services to international investors of all sizes and U.S. state, regional and local economic development organizations (EDOs). To learn more, please visit www.selectusa.gov
The U.S. Government will host the second SelectUSA Investment Summit in the Washington, D.C. area on March 23-24, 2015. The Summit will showcase investment opportunities from every corner of the United States, while high-profile business and government leaders share their insight on the latest business trends. The trade show and online matchmaking will enable investors to meet face-to-face with economic developers and officials to explore opportunities and learn about resources and incentives. Participants will find the practical tools, information and connections they need to move investments forward. To learn more and register, visit www.selectusasummit.com
Registered Apprenticeship is an employer-driven model that combines on-the-job learning with related classroom instruction that increases an apprentice’s skill level and wages. It is a proven solution for businesses to recruit, train, and retain highly skilled workers. President Obama has made skills development a cornerstone of his economic agenda – with a goal of doubling the number of Registered Apprenticeships over the next five years.
The U.S. Department of Labor recently launched a $100 million American Apprenticeship grant competition to expand registered apprenticeships in high-growth, high demand industries such as information technology, advanced manufacturing, business services, healthcare, and others. Approximately 25 grants ranging from $2.5 million to $5 million each will be awarded through this competition. To learn more about Registered Apprenticeship, the grants, or to connect with the Office of Apprenticeship, please visit: www.dol.gov/apprenticeship