Smart Money Well Spent: Investing in the United States

On the first day of summer, in a hotel foyer brightened with banners of patriotic red, white and blue, I was delighted to experience the bustle and excitement of the third annual SelectUSA Summit.

An estimated 2,400 participants had come from 70 markets around the globe, eager to find out more about the services that our government can provide to help them invest in the United States.

There were representatives of every type of company from multinational to startup. There were also 46 U.S. economic development organizations (EDOs) at the state, territorial, tribal, regional and local levels. And as a former ambassador, I was particularly delighted to see 22 chiefs of mission leading investment delegations from their countries and doing their part to continue those efforts.

The reason for the buzz was clear: The United States is the best place for business in the world.

We lead the world in research and development, entrepreneurship, and advanced manufacturing. We have strong rule of law and intellectual property protections; world-class universities, stable financial markets, plentiful and affordable energy, and vibrant supply chains.

With a nation of 320 million - many of them immigrants, an annual GDP of more than $18 trillion, a wide array of resources, and the world's most productive workers, we are unparalleled in the size, diversity and dynamism of our domestic market.

As this year's theme - "The Innovation Advantage" - underscores, our economic and commercial success is propelled by an innovative culture that a majority of Americans consider to be part of our national DNA.

President Obama said it best that day: "No country has done more to build a culture of making and tinkering, and entrepreneurship and risk-taking, and of innovation and invention."

That is why the United States, for the fourth straight year, has been voted best in the world for inward investment, according to the Kearney Foreign Direct Investment Confidence Index.

Foreign companies and the American communities in every corner of the U.S. where they invest continue to benefit.

For example, China's Envision, a Chinese producer of wind turbines and smart wind farm software, is investing $1.3 million in a Global Blade Innovation Center in Boulder and they plan to hire up to 42 highly skilled employees.

ELDOR, an Italian automotive manufacturer, saw great potential in Virginia. The company will be investing $75 million in Botetourt County to establish its first U.S. production plant, and are expecting to create 350 jobs.

The German precision machining company, Berghoff Group, recently announced a $30 million investment to set up its first U.S. manufacturing plant in Auburn, Alabama. The Auburn community will enjoy 100 new, well-paying jobs in precision machining to produce parts for the manufacturing, semiconductors, and aerospace industries.

In Port San Antonio, Texas, the Indian company Indo-MIM announced that it would establish its first ever manufacturing operations in the United States, with operations slated to commence by fall of 2016. The $24 million investment is expected to create 330 jobs over five years, including a startup workforce of more than 100 local hires.

And Israeli chemical and fertilizer manufacturer Haifa Chemical, a client of SelectUSA since 2013, will invest $12 million to build a new controlled-release fertilizer manufacturing facility in Savannah, Georgia. They plan to create 20 new jobs.

SelectUSA, since its inception, has assisted thousands of U.S. EDOs and foreign firms, helping to facilitate $22.5 billion in investment, supporting thousands of U.S. jobs.

In 2014, the total stock of direct investment in the United States was valued at $2.9 trillion. That figure represents 17 percent of GDP, which is larger, by far, than any other country.

At the Summit, where the excitement was palpable, it was clear the participants knew exactly what they are getting: our consumer market, our skilled and innovative workers, our advanced technology, our deep resources, and a fertile environment for innovation.

It was also clear that more investors will continue to come - this year and for the foreseeable future.