Paul Krutko is President & CEO of Ann Arbor SPARK, an economic development organization serving the Ann Arbor region of Central Michigan. He is also the current chairman of the board of the International Economic Development Council, the largest non-profit, non-partisan association for economic development and its practitioners.
Each incoming chair of the International Economic Development Council (IEDC), the largest organization of economic development professionals in the world, establishes a theme for the upcoming year that will be his or her top priority.
I determined that emphasizing the attraction of foreign direct investment (FDI) as a local and regional economic development strategy would be my theme for 2013. At mid-year we are making significant progress on this priority. I am happy to report that IEDC, through our partnership with SelectUSA, the International Trade Administration, and our coordination with the Economic Development Administration and the Department of Commerce as a whole, has pushed FDI to the forefront of the minds of our members like never before!
IEDC and economic developers from across the U.S. have traveled to Washington this week for a special White House Forum to meet with senior administration officials to discuss topics critical to job creation. From access to capital to workforce development, the challenges facing our profession and the communities we serve are as complex as they are diverse. We are grateful for this opportunity and want to express our appreciation to the Department of Commerce for inviting us to this conference.
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I have had the pleasure of working closely with many professionals throughout the federal government to advance FDI and export initiatives both in my own community of Ann Arbor, Michigan, as well as in my travels as chair of IEDC. By the end of my term, these travels will have taken me from coast-to-coast here in the United States, as well as to Western Europe, Brazil, Turkey, and Australia.
The message I have communicated is that economic developers are key actors in rebuilding our local and regional economies, and that FDI attraction is vital to building robust, resilient economies. And for good reason: with hundreds of billions of dollars of capital investment decisions being made annually that cross international boundaries, economic developers in the United States must look beyond their city limits, county lines, and state borders for new opportunities.
We are excited about the recent appointments of Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker and SelectUSA Executive Director Vinai Thummalapally. They will provide tremendous enlightened leadership to the team of professionals across the federal government active in economic development.
Like our meetings this week, both events will highlight the importance and power of FDI to positively shape a brighter economic future for communities everywhere.