Industry Market Trends

Friday Focus: The Case for Foreign Investment in "Made in America"

Nov 01, 2013

Encouraging foreign companies to invest and create more jobs in America was the central message this week at the Select USA Investment Summit in Washington, where President Barack Obama addressed 1,000 business leaders from about 60 countries.

The president announced the expansion of SelectUSA, which was created in 2011 to promote the U.S. as the "world's premier business location," and offer easy access to federal-level programs and business investment services. The initiative was launched upon the recommendations of CEOs and the U.S. Jobs Council.

Noting how American businesses have created more than 7.5 million jobs over the past three and a half years, the president emphasized that the U.S. is open for business. He suggested that the increased productivity of U.S. workers who graduate from the world's top universities should encourage foreign companies to invest in America.

"After a decade in which many jobs left the United States to go overseas, now we're seeing companies starting to bring jobs back because they're seeing the advantages of being located here," the president said. "Caterpillar is bringing jobs back from Japan. Ford is bringing jobs back from Mexico. After locating plants in other countries like China, Intel is opening its most advanced plant right here in the United States." He added that Samsung and Honda are currently expanding operations in the country.

Foreign Investment Impact

Recent reports reflect in further detail the substantial impact of foreign investment. Thomas J. Prusa, Ph.D. and associate professor of Economics at Rutgers University writes in a Forbes column that the Japanese auto industry's contributions to the American economy and the workforce accounted for more than 1.36 million private-sector jobs in 2012.

"If you take into consideration all of the direct production-facility driven and dealer-network driven employment, combined with the intermediate and indirect employment, combined with the intermediate and indirect employment, the added value to our country is remarkable," he wrote.

New foreign investment is crucial to the nation's economic recovery, particularly at a time when unemployment remains largely unchanged on a month to month basis. The latest U.S. Census Bureau data show that the number of unemployed Americans stands at 11.3 million, or at 7.3 percent.

SelectUSA has already helped create hundreds of American jobs. It has helped companies such as Voestalpine, an international steel company based in Austria, launch the creation of 220 jobs at an auto-parts plant in Georgia. The president noted that by 2015, nearly 400 jobs are also expected to be created in Oklahoma thanks to Belgian aircraft company ASCO, which reopened a factory.

The president vowed to ease the process of investing in America for foreign companies and said that encouraging foreign investment in the U.S. will be added to the portfolios of the nation's ambassadors and their staffs.

"We'll make sure for the first time, companies who want to do business in America have a single point of contact at the federal level to cut through red tape," he said.

Obama emphasized that that he and other high ranking officials will do more to "make the case" for investing in America.

The President outlined key reasons for foreign investments in Made in the USA:

1) Lower Energy Costs: As ThomasNet News sister publication IMT recently reported, the nation is an attractive location for various foreign businesses due to the shale gas production boom, which lowers energy and business costs.

2) Stability: As companies from mom and pop shops to major corporations look to build their staffing, many realize that a stable workforce starts with building products in the U.S.

3) Building on Top Talent and the Middle Class: The president emphasized that funding is crucial to support the Select USA program to prepare people for jobs.

"We need to make sure that we are resourcing the efforts to make sure that our workers can earn the skills that they need to compete in a global economy," the president said. He noted that businesses can partner with community colleges to help cut some of the training costs, but the support of Congress is essential.