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The Big Picture San Diego Blog


San Diego poised to benefit from federal FDI focus

November 7, 2013

California group photo with Sec. of Commerce Pritzker

EDC recently joined a delegation of nine California organizations, organized by the California Governor’s Office of Business and Economic Development (GO-Biz), at the inaugural SelectUSA  Investment Summit in Washington D.C. The goal was to promote the golden state as the prime spot for international trade and investment. Hosted by the Department of Commerce, the summit connected top-level corporate executives and investors from the U.S., and around the globe, with the nation’s economic development organizations at the state, regional, and local levels.

Despite the federal government shutdown a few weeks prior, it was business as usual in the nation’s capital.  “The United States is open for business,” President Obama told a sold-out room at the conference. 

The two-day conference welcomed more than 1,000 attendees from nearly 60 international markets and 47 U.S. states, three U.S. territories, and the District of Columbia. Featured speakers, in addition to the President, included Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker, Secretary of State John Kerry, Bill Simon (President and CEO of Walmart U.S.), Parker Harris (Co-Founder of Salesforce.com), and Ludwig Willisch (CEO of BMW North America).  The summit also featured more than 70 high-level speakers covering topics such as workforce development, public-private partnerships through infrastructure investments and exports.

Why is foreign direct investment (FDI) important?  Direct investment in the United States – from foreign or domestic firms – is a critical factor in economic growth and job creation.  In 2012 alone, the U.S. attracted more than $160 billion in foreign direct investment (FDI), making us the world’s top destination for FDI.  In 2011, foreign-owned companies in the U.S.  were responsible for employing 5.6 million U.S. workers. 

Where does California stack up in comparison to other U.S. states?  In April of this year, California Governor Jerry Brown announced more than $1.8 billion in deals making the state number one for attracting FDI.  Foreign-owned companies account for more than 700,000 jobs in the state.

At the conference, President Obama  announced the first-ever comprehensive effort led by the federal government to attract job-creating foreign investment to the U.S. through the expansion and enhancement of the SelectUSA initiative. The initiative seeks to grow FDI as the nation emerges from the recession and becomes an increasingly competitive location for attracting investment due to rising productivity, abundant low-cost energy and rising costs elsewhere.  With the announcement,  regions like San Diego can expect a smart FDI strategy that integrates export promotions, workforce development, innovation cluster creation and land use planning.   Such a strategy will reap the many benefits of international trade and investment—including new better paying jobs, new tax revenues, knowledge spillover and global connectivity. 

What does this mean for San Diego?  San Diego’s active role in    the State of California’s collaborative and coordinated investment promotion efforts is needed to engage and attract future investors;  our partnership with the Brookings Institution on the Metropolitan Export Initiative will create a regional export strategy that will boost the local economy and create jobs; and our ongoing involvement with the Global Cities Initiative to spur and strengthen regional global engagement puts San Diego on track for creating a blueprint for  global competitiveness.


posted by Daichi Pantaleon