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U.S. Commerce Secretary Gary Locke Announces First Federal Effort to Attract and Win New Business in the United States

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

New government-wide initiative will help remove federal investment barriers in support of a stronger economy and new jobs

U.S. Commerce Secretary Gary Locke announced today - at an event hosted by the Business Roundtable - the first coordinated federal effort to aggressively pursue and win new business investment in the United States. Created by Executive Order, SelectUSA will be housed at the U.S. Department of Commerce and online at, and highlight why the United States is the premier place to do business globally and help attract business operations to the U.S., spurring economic growth and job creation.

“America too often finds itself competing on a 21st century playing field using a 20th century playbook. In recent years, we have been losing ground to our foreign competitors in attracting and retaining business investment and have seen U.S. jobs move overseas,” Locke said. “In our increasingly global business environment, SelectUSA will help keep businesses in the United States and attract new businesses from around the world. By refocusing government resources, SelectUSA can make government work better to strengthen the economy and create new jobs for American workers. Simply put, business investment in the U.S. means jobs for the American people, and that is the Obama administration’s number one goal.”

As the U.S. competes with trading partners who have aggressive and large national programs to encourage businesses to move to or expand within their borders, SelectUSA will be a key component to strengthening U.S. competitiveness and winning the future. It will help cut federal red tape and remove barriers to new investment. The initiative is a direct response to concerns the administration has heard from the business community.

“SelectUSA has the potential to cut through the red tape, break through U.S. investment barriers and clear the path for job creation,” said Business Roundtable President John Engler.  “We thank Secretary Locke for his leadership. Business Roundtable members are ready to work with the Commerce Department to expand investment opportunities within the U.S. and help keep America competitive.”

“We applaud Secretary Locke and the Obama Administration for taking a crucial step to ensure the United States remains the most attractive place in the world for global companies to invest,” said Nancy McLernon, President and CEO of the Organization for International Investment.  “The U.S. subsidiaries of global companies employ more than 5 million Americans—and if ever there was a time to aggressively market the U.S. as a place to do business, the time is now. In the race to ‘win the future’ – it’s the country that successfully attracts the world’s investment that will ultimately win.”

Led by newly appointed Executive Director Barry Johnson, SelectUSA will encourage foreign businesses to operate in the United States, U.S. and foreign businesses to expand and grow in the United States, and U.S. businesses operating outside our borders to return their previously off-shored operations back to the United States by:

  • Providing assistance to U.S. states, at their request, to address federal “red tape” issues through a new interagency investment facilitation task force;
  • Engaging in advocacy and outreach to promote the United States as the best market for business operations in the world, and;
  • Consolidating all information on federal programs and services available to companies that operate in the United States to a one-stop web portal,

With the help of liaisons from each agency across the federal government, SelectUSA will provide business investment information to supplement state resources and assist U.S. states in bringing businesses to their communities. For the first time, state officials will have a clear point of contact at the federal level to assist with investment issues – a permitting issue or stalled grant, for example – eliminating the need to navigate the federal bureaucracy in search of the appropriate contact.

The Commerce Department is uniquely suited to spearhead SelectUSA, with a global network of personnel in the United States and nearly 80 countries around the world working to drive business growth and development. Barry Johnson comes from the department’s Economic Development Administration where he was a senior policy advisor focused on smarter use of federal resources to support the development of 21st century communities where innovation, business investment and job creation flourish. He has experience as a former corporate executive at both a U.S. firm and a U.S. subsidiary of a foreign-owned firm and has led several Obama administration regional innovation initiatives that leverage resources from across federal agencies.

Supported by a comprehensive website, SelectUSA ( will offer government-wide information on federal programs and services available to companies that invest in the United States in one, easy-to-access location. The website will also provide snapshots of the competitive landscape in major U.S. industries and a direct line to state and local economic development agencies.

Both domestic businesses and U.S. subsidiaries of foreign firms play an important role in the U.S. economy. U.S. subsidiaries of foreign firms support over 5 million jobs – accounting for over 10 percent of U.S. private-sector capital investment – nearly 15 percent of annual research and development expenditures, and nearly 20 percent of U.S. exports. The Commerce Department’s Economics and Statistics Administration released a report Tuesday summarizing recent foreign investment in the U.S. that identified several opportunities for growth.

Please see here the President’s Executive Order establishing SelectUSA.