The Foreign Service Journal, June 2018

50 JUNE 2018 | THE FOREIGN SERVICE JOURNAL Views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the AFSA FCS VP. Contact: | (202) 482-9088 FCS VP VOICE | BY DANIEL CROCKER AFSA NEWS How SelectUSA Connects Foreign Investors with U.S. Companies Economic security in the United States depends on continued business invest- ment and job creation. The United States is an $18-tril- lion economy with 330 million consumers. With low energy costs, outstanding logistics networks, a trans- parent legal system, and now fewer regulations and lower corporate tax rates, it is no wonder that the United States continues to be a prime destination for foreign direct investment (FDI). But we can’t afford to take a passive, “Field of Dreams” approach to recruiting FDI. Other coun- tries have compelling invest- ment climates, as well. And even in developed countries like Spain, impressions of the United States based on social media and politi- cal battles may distort the ability of foreign investors to see potential opportuni- ties objectively. So we need to be proactive in our work with these investors and businesspeople. The Commercial Ser- vice’s SelectUSA program takes the lead on all U.S. government recruitment of FDI. Commercial Ser- vice offices in 76 countries and throughout the United States identify leading foreign companies and work with them, often in coordi- nation with U.S. state and local governments. We talk to existing foreign investors about their ongo- ing needs to see if we can help address their con- cerns. Our foreign investors increasingly use the United States as an export plat- form, which means that our international network may be called on to go to bat for them in yet other countries. Recruiting investment takes work—within each country, the Commercial Service team identifies key prospects and works with the U.S. ambassador to put on targeted receptions, host state governor-led invest- ment missions and arrange ad hoc visits to prospective sites in the United States. And every year, Com- merce uses its convening authority to host a Selec- tUSA Summit in Washing- ton, D.C., where foreign companies have the oppor- tunity to meet with a critical mass of state and local governments, in addition to relocation, tax, human capi- tal and regulatory experts, all under one roof. Our contacts in foreign companies often ask us where in the United States they should look to do busi- The Commercial Service’s SelectUSA activity helps more than 6,000 foreign companies each year and contributes $7.7 billion in foreign direct investment. New Specialist Class Members Join AFSA On April 19 AFSA welcomed 37 members of the 147th Specialist Class to a lun- cheon at the asso- ciation’s headquar- ters building. Ambassador Beth Jones hosted the luncheon, while AFSA Governing Board members Josh Glazeroff and Tricia Wingerter were on hand to speak with the new Foreign Service members and answer their questions about AFSA and the many ways the association can assist, protect and advocate for them. Almost 90 percent of the class members chose to join AFSA at the event. n ness. Our SelectUSA pro- gram won’t pick winners and losers among the states. But we do have online tools that allow companies to game out investment scenarios with such factors as energy costs, sector- specific clusters and labor rates using over 50 million open data records, which Commerce developed in conjunction with Harvard Business School’s Institute for Strategy and Competi- tiveness. We also facilitate conversations between these foreign companies and specific state and local governments. During the past two years, this SelectUSA activ- ity has helped more than 6,000 foreign companies each year and has contrib- uted to $7.7 billion in FDI. Our worldwide and domes- tic network is dedicated to selling the United States as an investment destination. The work is intensive, but it clearly pays off in jobs here at home. n