According to the Organization for International Investment (OFII), foreign direct investment in the United States totaled $2.9 trillion through 2014 on a historical-cost basis (cumulative investment). In 2008, investment reached a 10-year peak at $310 billion. In 2009, the global economic recession led to significant reductions in U.S. investment, falling by more than half the previous year’s levels. In 2014, foreign companies invested $112 billion in the U.S. – the weakest year in a decade. However, based on preliminary data for the first three quarters of 2015, OFII suggests that foreign direct investment in the U.S. may make a comeback, possibly breaking records by exceeding $300 billion. 

International trade directors from more than 35 states participated in meetings and discussions with federal officials, foreign dignitaries and other partners at the State International Development Organizations’, or SIDO’s, Washington Forum in Washington, D.C., the first week of April. SIDO members met with federal officials to discuss implementation of two recent legislative actions, namely the passage of the Small Business Trade Enhancement Act of 2015, or the State Trade Coordination Act, and the reauthorization of the State Trade and Export Promotions, or STEP, program.

The U.S. Economic Development Administration will hold a series of informational webinars for prospective applicants to the agency’s $15 million Regional Innovation Strategies Program competition.

Prior to 1996, the minimum wage was rarely an issue addressed on state ballots. Since 1996 however, the minimum wage has increasingly appeared on state ballots, and could appear on the ballot in a record 11 states in 2016. The first time the minimum wage appeared on a state ballot was in 1912 in Ohio.

President Obama and his family’s visit to Cuba March 20, 2016, marked the first time since 1928 that a sitting American president visited the island.  While Obama’s trip included formal bilateral meetings with Cuban President Raúl Castro, the White House and other federal departments emphasized engagement with the Cuban people and the economic opportunity reduced barriers represent for the Cuban people. In doing so, the administration is clearly working to brand the recent loosening of travel and trade restrictions as a new approach to empower the Cuban people and foster economic and political reform.

CSG Midwest
A state-federal partnership that helps small- and medium-sized businesses in the Midwest reach global markets has been reauthorized through 2020. The State Trade and Export Program, or STEP, was included in legislation signed into law in February. It provides states with matching funds to help more small businesses export their goods and services.
The Council of State Governments, through the work of the State International Development Organizations, helped federal lawmakers and trade agencies develop the reauthorization language. (SIDO is a CSG affiliate.)

CSG Midwest
Canada and the United States have long been each other’s most important energy partners, with annual trade between the two countries in this economic sector at nearly $100 billion. Cross-border pipelines bring natural gas and oil south to major U.S. markets, and two Midwestern states, Minnesota and North Dakota, imported 12 percent of their electricity from Canada in 2014.
“North America is an integrated market,” notes Dan D’Autremont, speaker of the Legislative Assembly of Saskatchewan.
But leaders at the federal, state and provincial levels are taking steps now to deepen the two countries’ relationship, this time with an emphasis on sharing information and working more closely on innovations to reshape the future of energy policy and energy use across the entire continent.

Many state leaders participate in international trips, education exchanges and foreign delegations in their states and districts. Understanding the proper protocol to guide interactions with foreign visitors is key to overcoming intercultural communications barriers and building relationships with overseas contacts. During this session, experts discussed the proper protocol for meeting with foreign delegations, including proper greeting and business card exchanges and how to conduct business meetings and other events.   

CSG Midwest
Starting on Jan. 1, nearly all Illinois residents became eligible to invest in businesses in the state looking to raise capital. The reason: recently enacted legislation (HB 3429) that provides an exemption for nonaccredited investors to participate in intrastate “equity crowdfunding.”
CSG Midwest
Ask Minnesota Sen. Matt Schmit what his rural communities in Greater Minnesota need to prosper, and it doesn’t take long before the discussion turns to the importance of having high-speed Internet. “A good share of our rural homes and busi­nesses still lack access to Minnesota’s very modest speed goals,” he says.
Schmit is not the only state lawmaker concerned about this lack of connectivity. Six years ago, the Legislature passed a bill calling for all Minnesotans to have access to those “modest speed goals” (10 megabits per second download and 5 Mbps upload) by 2015. As of last year, however, only 78 percent of households met that standard.

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