Alabama team showcases state for foreign investment at SelectUSA

Alabama team showcases state for foreign investment at SelectUSA
Vince Perez of the Alabama Department of Commerce gestures while speaking during a meeting at the 2017 SelectUSA Investment Summit. (SelectUSA)

Alabama’s business recruiters were in the nation’s capital last week, selling the state’s diverse and growing business scene to potential investors from around the world.

The 2018 SelectUSA Investment Summit in Washington, D.C., is the premier foreign direct investment (FDI) event in the U.S.

Alabama already attracts significant numbers of jobs and amounts of investments from international companies in a broad range of industries, including automotive, aerospace, biotech and beyond.

Last year alone, the state’s FDI came from 16 different countries, totaling more than $1.2 billion in investment and 3,391 new and future jobs. Since 2013, Alabama has attracted more than $8 billion in FDI, according to data from the Alabama Department of Commerce.

Last week, recruiters were looking to build on those past successes, said Vincent Perez, a project manager for the Alabama Department of Commerce.

“This summit is always a great opportunity for us to show off the advantages of doing business in Alabama,” he said. “A lot of the companies that will be at SelectUSA are those that don’t have a presence in the U.S. and also those that haven’t done business in the U.S. through trade.”

The 2017 Select USA Investment Summit saw a record 2,800 participants from 60 international markets. (SelectUSA)

Seeking opportunities

A new feature from the Alabama team this year was a booth operated by the Port of Mobile. Alabama’s export business is strong, with shipments that reached a record $21.7 billion last year.

Port officials were able to address trade questions from summit attendees who see that as a first step toward doing business in the U.S., Perez said.

“They may not be ready for an investment in a new facility in the U.S., but they may be ready to sell products here,” he said.

Meanwhile, the Commerce Department shared a booth with the Economic Development Partnership of Alabama, North Alabama Industrial Development Association, PowerSouth and Alabama Power.

In addition to capitalizing on Alabama’s booming export activity, recruiters also aimed to build on strong ties to Japan. Honda and Toyota, along with their extensive supplier networks, have a long history of successful operation in the state.

“And with the announcement of the new Toyota-Mazda plant in Huntsville this year, that’s another place where we can reach out and keep that momentum going,” Perez said.

State commerce officials meet with international business representatives at the Alabama booth at last year’s SelectUSA Investment Summit. (SelectUSA)

‘Open for business’

Likewise, there was a focus on continued investment in the automotive sector, particularly in advanced technology research and manufacturing. Last year, Mercedes-Benz U.S. International announced plans to launch electric vehicle production in Alabama as part of a $1 billion project.

“We’re focused on job creation and getting new investment into the state,” Perez said. “We have positioned ourselves well, through Governor Kay Ivey’s leadership, to be one of the best places in the country for FDI, and we want to make sure everybody knows Alabama is open for business.”

The U.S. is home to more FDI than any other country in the world, with an estimated $3.7 trillion at the end of 2016, according to the latest SelectUSA data. FDI also supports nearly 13 million direct and indirect U.S. jobs.

Last year, the summit set attendance records with more than 3,000 participants, including 1,200 business representatives and economic development organizations from 52 U.S. states and territories.

The theme for the 2018 event was “Invest Here. Grow Here. Succeed Here.” Speakers included key government and industry leaders from across the country who discussed opportunities in areas including infrastructure, energy and advanced manufacturing.

This story originally appeared on the Alabama Department of Commerce’s Made in Alabama website.

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