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2015 is off to a great start for International Economic Development Council (IEDC) and I am excited and honored to spend the next 12 months as the Chair of our Board of Directors. In this capacity, I will be traveling the globe and conferring with my fellow economic developers on many of the pressing issues and opportunities our profession is facing. One event I am particularly looking forward to attending is the 2nd SelectUSA Investment Summit. Having attended the first Investment Summit in 2013, I can personally attest to the value of coming to Washington to meet with colleagues from across the U.S., hundreds of international investors – I’m told this year’s summit will feature twice as many investors – and hear from a robust speaking program featuring top administration leaders in foreign direct investment attraction.
Foreign direct investment has proven to be a vital tool in the economic developer’s toolbox in the years following the Great Recession. In my own community, Saginaw, Michigan, it has contributed to the creation or retention of thousands of jobs over the past five years. One company, Nexteer, has invested hundreds of millions of dollars in expanding their operations in Saginaw, which has resulted in thousands of jobs being created or retained. As an economic developer, I cannot overstate the importance of the resources that SelectUSA has provided my organization and countless others within my profession. Simply put: SelectUSA brings clarity, focus and action to the role of the federal government in supporting FDI attraction at the local, regional and state level. They are an essential partner in the work of economic developers to create jobs and improve the quality of life in our communities. They are also a valued partner of IEDC in Washington and have played a key role in raising the profile of our profession over the past few years.
Over the course of this year, IEDC will embark on the important work of creating training resources related to FDI attraction and export promotion. This work has been made possible through the generosity of the JPMorgan Chase Foundation and will include training manuals and training courses on best practices and emerging trends in FDI attraction and export promotion. We will also be launching an effort to support reshoring activities, a project made possible by the Economic Development Administration with support from SelectUSA and other Department of Commerce resources, such as the Assessing Costs Everywhere (ACE) program. ACE is a useful tool for helping companies asses the real costs of doing business here at home versus overseas. No doubt we will have many opportunities to bring attention to the NEI/NEXT initiative, which is the second phase of the administration’s high-priority export promotion program that is already helping U.S. businesses expand the market reach of products and services made in the USA.
2015 will be a busy year for IEDC and the most productive year yet for programs and initiatives supporting attracting foreign investment, luring back previously U.S.-based business operations, and expanding opportunities for U.S. exporters. As we celebrate the end of 2015 next December, I am certain IEDC, our members, and our many partners within the Department of Commerce will be able to reflect on a long-list of accomplishments we can be proud of. I hope to see you at the SelectUSA Investment Summit in March, as well as at one of our exciting upcoming conferences.