Amy Zecha is an International Investment Specialist with SelectUSA. Her portfolio covers Central and Eastern Europe, including Germany.
Ranking as the third largest investor in the United States, Germany plays an important role in the U.S. economy with more than 10 percent of all FDI in the country. Of the $2.7 trillion in FDI stock recorded in 2012, Germany accounted for more than $272.2 billion. SelectUSA has identified Germany as a key focus market and will lead multiple delegations of economic development organizations (EDOs) to Germany throughout the coming year, including groups to Hannover Messe in April, and Automechanika in September.
The German American Chamber of Commerce does an annual survey of German-owned subsidiaries in the United States called the German American Business Outlook. This report indicated there was a five-year high in investor confidence, with 98 percent of German firms in the United States expecting to see business growth in 2014. This level of confidence is reflected by the 31 percent of respondents planning the launch of new product lines and 75 percent anticipating making new hires for the coming year.
Survey respondents expressed some concerns about the lack of a skilled workforce in the United States, but still remained positive about the overall outlook in 2014. This upbeat outlook may be due in part to the various efforts by both the United States and Germany to address workforce issues, including the German Skills Initiative.
This collaborative effort between the German Embassy and the U.S. Department of Commerce focuses on bringing the German dual-track vocational training to the United States, concentrating on areas where high-skilled manufacturing clusters are located. The program matches German and American businesses with educational institutions to help create workforce training programs that will help produce workers with the specific skill sets demanded by the businesses of today – and tomorrow.
The commitment to workforce development and working with the German business community is demonstrated at all levels of the U.S. Department of Commerce. In November 2013, Secretary Penny Pritzker traveled to Munich, Germany to meet with German CEOs interested in establishing facilities (or expanding existing operations) in the United States. During her trip, she visited with business leaders from BMW, Frauenhofer, and iwis Motorsystems to learn more about their best practices for training and apprenticeship programs.
These kinds of relationships and exchanges on best practices will only enhance the attractiveness of the United States to international companies. As future workforce and training initiatives and partnerships come online, we expect to see growing interest in the U.S. market – not just from German companies, but others around the world.
Author’s Note: For potential investors interested in speaking directly to SelectUSA representatives and meet with U.S. states, cities, and counties, we will be hosting the USA Investment Center at Hannover Messe 2014. To schedule an appointment, please visit http://selectusa.tema.de/.