States Seek to Attract Investment in Hannover

State economic development organizations and U.S. companies were on full display last month at the Hannover Messe Industrial Trade Fair. As the world’s largest industrial technology trade fair, held annually just outside Hannover, Germany, Hannover Messe is an international meet-and-greet of sorts, providing U.S. companies and state international trade organizations the opportunity to meet prospective foreign investors and export partners from around the world.

Hannover Messe annually attracts more than 200,000 attendees, but this year saw even more than the usual number of Americans in attendance. For the first time, the United States was honored as the Partner Country at the event, giving American industries and participants prominent focus at the fair.

To mark the occasion, President Barack Obama, the first sitting president to attend the event, led the largest ever U.S. delegation to the Hannover Messe Industrial Trade Fair. The delegation, organized by the SelectUSA program within the U.S. Department of Commerce, included more than 270 American businesses, research institutions and economic development organizations.

“The United States is home to the most innovative and forward-thinking companies in the world, but in today’s global economy, it’s not enough to be the best,” said U.S. Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker. “We must also let the world know that America is open for business.”

CSG and the State International Development Organizations—or SIDO—a CSG affiliate organization, helped states attending the fair do just that. SIDO members and staff joined the delegation of more than 40 state and economic development organizations in Hannover. During the fair, Ann Pardalos, the current president of SIDO, and Andy Karellas, the executive director of SIDO, helped coordinate networking events and a roundtable discussion with states and high-level federal officials regarding best practices in attracting foreign investment into the U.S.

“Exporting is such a critical component that contributes to the economic health of our states,” said Pardalos. She said better coordination at the state and federal levels could help attract foreign direct investment in American companies.

During SIDO-sponsored events at the trade fair, state and federal officials discussed how federal agencies and state economic development offices can better coordinate their resources to ensure potential investors have the information necessary to make a decision on where and when to invest in the U.S., such as the current workforce, infrastructure, tax policy, energy capacity and regulations.

Established by executive order in June 2011, SelectUSA’s mission is to increase and ease the process for foreign direct investment, or FDI, in the U.S. through events and engagement such as the Hannover Messe.

Investment by foreign firms in the U.S. is a critical driver of job growth. According to the Organization for International Investment, or OFII, foreign investment was responsible for the direct employment of over 5.8 million employees, and 12 million when including secondary or indirect jobs in 2013. Promisingly, OFII’s analysis of preliminary data suggests that FDI in the U.S. during 2015 could break the 2008 record. The impact and awareness of these foreign investments has increased in post-recession economies as states and the federal government work to create investment friendly climates and actively engage the world at events like Hannover Messe.

The U.S. Commerce Department will release official 2015 FDI data on June 30.