Vinai Thummalapally is the Executive Director of SelectUSA.
Every day, economic developers across the United State work to create, attract, and retain jobs in their local communities. This week, the International Economic Development Council (IEDC) is leading Economic Development Week to thank economic developers for their contributions to economic growth and the quality of life in their regions.
SelectUSA works with these economic developers to help them attract foreign direct investment (FDI), and in the process, we see just how hard they work. They are often at it for long hours, stretching across multiple time zones. They’re on their feet for days, pitching people at trade fairs and patiently answering questions. We saw this most recently at Hannover Messe, as more than 90 U.S. economic development organizations (EDOs) worked incredibly hard to find the right leads among more than 200,000 attendees. Then, they painstakingly follow up, business card by business card, for months and sometimes years, with potential investors.
When an investment deal is close, they put the extra time in to make sure it gets across the finish line. Just last week, we saw this with the team from the Brownsville Economic Development Council. One day they were meeting with prospects in Hannover, Germany, and the next they were back home preparing to announce a $114 million investment they had been working on since 2014.
It’s at those moments — when the investments are announced, when the companies start hiring, when the ribbons are cut and the workers are on the job — that we see just how much the work of economic developers means to individuals and their families.
FDI creates jobs. In fact, an estimated 12 million U.S. jobs can be attributed to foreign direct investment. FDI contributes to American innovation and helps drive exports: the U.S. affiliates of foreign companies spent $53 billion on U.S. research and development and exported more than one fifth of total U.S. goods exports in 2013 alone. Thanks in part to the work of economic developers, the United States remains the largest recipient of FDI in the world.
This week is also an opportunity to note an impressive milestone. Congratulations to IEDC on their 90th anniversary. They have worked hard, over many years, to give a powerful voice to the economic development community. They have shown leadership through practical and forward-thinking training. And they have brought economic developers together, to share best practices and keep American communities competitive.
Join in the discussion and join us in thanking our nation’s economic developers online by tweeting to #EconDevWeek!
Learn more about SelectUSA: Housed within the U.S. Department of Commerce, SelectUSA promotes and facilitates business investment into the United States. SelectUSA assists U.S. economic development organizations to compete globally for investment by providing information, a platform for international marketing, and high-level advocacy. SelectUSA helps investors find the information they need to make decisions; connect to the right people at the local level; navigate the federal regulatory system; and find solutions to issues related to the federal government. For more information, visit www.selectusa.gov.