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Remarks at White House Forum on Global Investment

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Commerce Secretry Penny Pritzker
Remarks at Remarks at White House Forum on Global Investment

I put a sign on the door of my new office that says “Open for Business.” That’s the message I’m sending to CEOs – here and abroad – who ask about investing in the U.S.

The total stock of FDI in the U.S. is about $2.7 trillion, supporting 5.6 million jobs. Last year, about $168 billion in FDI flowed into the United States. We are seeing fast FDI growth in sectors like manufacturing, machinery, and professional, scientific and technical services. Notably, nearly one-fifth of U.S. exports come from U.S. subsidiaries of foreign firms.

The reasons to invest here are more and more compelling: Our consumer-driven economy is steadily growing; our workforce is highly-educated (Our Census Bureau reports that 30 percent now have bachelor’s degrees); our workforce is also more productive than ever; our low and stable energy costs make us an attractive place for manufacturers to build (Shale gas and oil production have surged over 50 percent each of the past five years); our financial markets are sound and stable, with fluid venture capital and private equity flows; our legal system is transparent and predictable, and our intellectual property protections remain the gold standard; we rank near the very top of the Ease of Doing Business index (currently #4); we now have 20 free trade agreements that reach 700 million people (representing about $7 trillion in GDP); we drive innovation at home, with 1/3 of all global R&D spending; and our culture of entrepreneurship is as vibrant as ever. This is good news for companies worldwide that are looking for somewhere to put their next big investment.

Two years ago, the President thought we should do more to help those companies. At that time, out of 195 countries, we were one of 10 that did not have a national-level investment program. Prospective investors didn’t know where to begin when they looked at the size and complexity of our economy. 

So we launched SelectUSA at the Commerce Department. We’re helping firms that want to invest, remain, expand, or return to the U.S. In particular, we’re helping foreign firms understand rules and regulations. We’re helping them learn what it takes to operate a business here – including federal programs that might help. We’re pointing them to incentives at the state level that they might be able to use, and more.

How many of you are familiar with our U.S. and Foreign Commercial Service? Many of our officers are stationed in U.S. embassies in your countries. Through SelectUSA, we’ve trained our officers in over 30 countries, including nearly all of yours. In addition to their traditional role of helping U.S. companies export, they’re now also helping foreign companies invest in the U.S.

For example, Ambassador Manz might know that last year, we started working with an Austrian supplier (Voestalpine). Our Vienna-based staff counseled them on how to establish an auto components plant in the U.S. We provided contacts in regions that the company was interested in. And our own ambassador met with the company. As a result, the company will soon open a new plant in Georgia, where a local technical college is partnering with them to help train about 200 workers. In March, they announced plans for a second investment with about 150 more jobs. 

SelectUSA is also working with firms like Bombardier. We helped Bombardier with cross-border and regulatory concerns related to its big investment in Wichita, Kansas. 

We want even more Americans to have the opportunity to get good jobs – regardless of whether they’re working for a U.S. company or a subsidiary of a foreign firm. This is a win-win. We will strengthen our commercial, economic, and person-to-person ties, and we will foster more prosperity in our bilateral relationships. 

With that in mind, I’m excited that the Commerce Department will host the first-ever SelectUSA Investment Summit here in Washington on October 31st and November 1st. This will be the premier event on investing in the U.S. It brings together global CEOs, U.S. economic development leaders, government officials at all levels, and distinguished leaders like all of you.

We will highlight U.S. strengths in areas like manufacturing, IT, and energy – including both fossil fuels and renewables. Experts will explain the “whys” and “hows” of investing in the U.S. And we’ll make matches between U.S. economic development organizations and foreign companies that are looking to start or expand their footprint in the U.S.

The countries here today represent some of our most important trade and investment partners. So, I want to formally invite each of you to attend, and we would be thrilled for you to bring 20 to 30 companies with you.

I look forward to our discussion.