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U.S. Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker Kicks Off 2015 SelectUSA Investment Summit

U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker today delivered opening remarks at the 2015 SelectUSA Summit, the Obama Administration’s premier event aimed at attracting foreign direct investment to the United States.

Addressing an audience of more than 2,600 people from more than 70 markets, Secretary Pritzker spoke about how the United States is the world’s top investment destination and SelectUSA’s efforts to make it even easier for international firms to do business in the U.S. 

President Obama will deliver the keynote address at the Summit later today. Secretary of State John Kerry, Secretary of the Treasury Jacob J. Lew, Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack, Secretary of Labor Thomas Perez, and Secretary of Transportation Anthony Foxx will also deliver remarks.

                                                             Remarks As Prepared for Delivery

Good morning. Welcome to the second SelectUSA Investment Summit.

As the United States agency charged with leading SelectUSA, all of us at the Department of Commerce are proud to host you this week and to serve throughout the year as your bridge to American communities and markets.

It is a true pleasure to see such a large, diverse crowd of business leaders and government officials under one roof for this extraordinary gathering. This year, companies from more than 70 international markets have sent delegations. And this event is not only sold out, but we have doubled the number of participants from our first summit, with over 2,600 attendees here with us today.

President Obama created SelectUSA four years ago as a first-of-its-kind, whole-of-government, comprehensive initiative to attract and retain more investment to the United States.

Every day, SelectUSA serves as the connective tissue between foreign investors and American markets. For investors, SelectUSA is your first stop to find data on U.S. communities. It is a key source of information on how to establish operations in the United States; how to navigate federal rules and regulations; how to understand the changes in our economy.

For cities, counties, states, and economic development professionals, SelectUSA is your partner in attracting new sources of investment.

SelectUSA provides counseling on strategy and best practices, including on-the-ground information from our commercial service officers about potential partners and investors across more than 70 foreign markets.

SelectUSA serves as your city or state’s promotional platform and your advocate, organizing road shows and missions to trade fairs across the globe.

For these reasons and more, the work of SelectUSA is absolutely critical.

Today and tomorrow, you will hear from President Obama, from officials across our Administration, from state and local economic development agencies, and from key leaders in the private sector. 

All of us will deliver a single, simple, and straightforward message: America’s economic resurgence is real – and there is no better time to invest in our country.

The strength of our economy and the benefits of our market are well understood by business leaders – in this room and across the globe – as evidenced by an A.T. Kearney survey of international CEOs that ranked the United States as the number one place to grow a business for two years running.

Companies choose to invest here because of our rising job market: with 12 million jobs added over the past five years; with our unemployment rate down to its lowest level in six years; with our manufacturers creating nearly 900,000 jobs since 2009.

Firms choose to invest here because of our strong rule of law and intellectual property protections; our world-class universities and our global leadership in R&D; our stable financial markets and our vibrant supply chains; and our abundant and affordable energy supply.

Businesses choose to invest here because of our low tariff rates and the low barriers to entry to our communities. Investors also choose the United States because of the talent and ingenuity of our people.

Taken together, these strengths make it clear why the United States continues to boast the world’s leading investment climate – and why, today, tomorrow, and in the future, our doors will remain open for your business.

Your confidence in America is represented by enterprises such as Maqdoom Brothers Designers, an Indian clothing company. Like 60 percent of the foreign delegates at this summit, Maqdoom is a small business that has traditionally served a local clientele.

Maqdoom opened its doors 126 years ago, but it was not until two years ago that it saw an opportunity to bring their business to the United States.

In February 2013, Maqdoom’s owners attended a SelectUSA roundtable in Hyderabad, where Foreign Commercial Service officers stationed in India described U.S. investment opportunities. As a result, Maqdoom joined the Indian delegation to the first SelectUSA Summit in October 2013. 

With the help of SelectUSA staff to navigate federal regulations, the company incorporated a subsidiary in Joliet, Illinois. And in September 2014, Maqdoom opened a new distribution and retail outlet in my hometown of Chicago.

Maqdoom is not alone. 

Also with us today is Lufthansa Technik, a subsidiary of the German aviation company, which chose to open a new maintenance, repair, and overhaul facility in Puerto Rico thanks to SelectUSA’s counseling and advocacy.

In addition, we have Questor Technology, a Canadian clean tech firm, which attended a SelectUSA event in Calgary, worked with our team to gather information on U.S. markets, and, a few months ago, opened a new production facility in Brooksville, Florida.

In this audience, we are proud to see a significant number of foreign firms that have placed their bet on America, including a Swiss energy firm, a Japanese advanced composites maker, an Italian bottle cap company, a Chinese automotive glass manufacturer, and hundreds of others that are committed to investing in the United States.

Today, the United States is proud to stand as the largest recipient of foreign direct investment in the world. Over each of the last three quarters, foreign businesses have injected an average of $67 billion into our economy, and over the past year, summit participants announced at least $13 billion in U.S. investments, which support an estimated 32,500 new jobs.

Even with this success, our Administration is well aware that each of you has a choice in where to invest.  And I want to make it crystal clear: we want your business. 

To stay a step ahead of the global competition for investment, President Obama has challenged his team to continually improve the investment climate across our nation. 

The Commerce Department will work to meet this goal through a new partnership between SelectUSA and state economic development organizations; through the release of new data on the impact of foreign direct investment on the U.S. economy; and through improved online tools to make it easier for investors to identify potential American partners. And we will establish the first-ever federal advisory committee to solicit input on strategies to attract foreign direct investment to the United States.

Our Administration’s efforts to compete for your investment are not limited to the Commerce Department and SelectUSA.

Knowing that all firms want to locate in a market open to trade and exports, we lead the revitalized National Export Initiative to expand access to the 95 percent of customers who live beyond our borders, and the entire Administration is committed to enacting important new trade agreements, opening more doors to the Asia Pacific and Europe, covering two-thirds of global GDP.

Knowing that companies want to come to a country with an educated and well-prepared workforce, we support strategic investments to ensure the skills of our workers match the needs of businesses.

Knowing that U.S. tax policy must be globally competitive, we are focused on business tax reform that closes loopholes, lowers rates, and gives companies every reason to locate their operations in America.

Knowing that a vibrant and innovative manufacturing sector is an essential factor in where you decide to invest, we are bringing industry, academia, and government together to create the next generation of advanced manufacturing.

Finally, knowing that any good business requires a strong, durable infrastructure, we have made key investments in our roads and bridges, in broadband, and in the digital infrastructure needed to compete in the 21stcentury.

Our Administration’s dedication to attracting your investment stems from a simple fact: foreign direct investment spurs growth for American businesses and supports good-paying jobs in our communities.

When your international firms locate operations in the United States, our workers benefit, as more than 5.8 million Americans go to work each day in high-paying jobs supported by foreign direct investment.

When your international firms invest in our country, you bring state-of-the-art workforce development programs to our communities, helping U.S. workers gain the skills they need to succeed in their careers.

When your international firms invest in America, you help ensure that the U.S. continues to lead the world in innovation, as foreign companies spent $48 billion on R&D here in 2012, comprising more than 15 percent of total R&D nationwide.

When your international firms come to our shores, our communities gain a competitive edge in the global economy, as your U.S. affiliates account for more than one-fifth of all American goods exports and integrate local businesses into global supply chains. 

There can be little doubt: our efforts to capture more investment serve to strengthen economies, families, businesses, and communities across our nation. That is the reason we are so invested in the success of SelectUSA and this summit.

Indeed, everyone here has a stake in this success. Our gathering today and tomorrow is about connecting, expanding partnerships, building new relationships, and charting new courses to growth.

Simply put, these next two days are an extraordinary opportunity – an opportunity to learn, in plenaries and breakout sessions focused on the landscape for start-ups and entrepreneurship; the innovation advantage in the United States – and how you can make the most of it; the energy revolution in America – and how low energy prices impact your business; and the investment prospects in rural America.

An opportunity to listen to key leaders from the public and private sectors, including Cabinet members and White House officials; governors and mayors; global business leaders like Warren Buffett and Eric Schmidt of Google; and this afternoon, we will all have the honor and privilege of hearing directly from the President of the United States, Barack Obama.

In addition, you will have an opportunity to meet and exchange ideas with key partners; to engage with the leaders of SelectUSA, including Vinai Thummalapally, the program’s Executive Director; to hear from representatives of 20 different federal agencies; to connect with U.S. economic development officials, who can talk about their regional assets and their hometown workforce; to meet over 45 U.S. Chiefs of Mission, who have organized and led delegations from around the world; and to meet members of our Foreign Commercial Service, who connect local communities to global markets, and foreign companies to U.S. markets.

Most importantly, this summit is an opportunity for partnership with your fellow participants.

If you seize these opportunities, we will not only make this summit a success. We will not only pave the path to more investment here in the United States. We will not only create closer ties between foreign businesses and U.S. markets that will benefit all of us for years to come.

We will clearly establish that America is open for business – your business. Thank you.