Leading FDI Experts Analyze Global Trends At LiveXchange

The 12th Annual Business Facilities’ LiveXchange event kicked off at the Hyatt Regency Pier Sixty-Six in Fort Lauderdale, FL on April 18 with a high-level keynote panel discussion featuring leading experts on foreign direct investment.

LiveXchange 2016 drew representatives from major economic development agencies and site selectors seeking facility locations for projects initiated by major corporations, bringing them together in a series of face-to-face deal-making sessions. Group C Media Co-President Ted Coene, BF’s Chief Business Officer, hailed this year’s LiveXchange as the most successful of the series.

“LiveXchange offers the most measurable return available for two well-spent days of business travel,” Coene said. “No other event delivers a customized itinerary that puts site selectors at the same table with the locations they’re considering for projects and showcases leading site selection consultants presenting informative seminars on key issues confronting economic development, while making sure everyone has a great time at a high-quality venue.

“Every year, we pull out all the stops to make the latest LiveXchange bigger and better than our previous events,” he added. “This year we hit the mark with our most successful LiveXchange to date.”

LiveXchange 2016 was attended by a bevy of corporate delegates, including several Fortune 500 players from a diverse mix of industrial growth sectors, who presented location representatives with pending projects representing capital investments totaling nearly $1 billion, with the potential to create 6,800 new jobs and $153 million in new wages. Economic development agencies from every region of the U.S. were represented at LiveXchange 2016.

The Growth Without Borders keynote panel featured Peggy Philbin, Deputy Executive Director of SelectUSA, and Courtney Fingar, Editor in Chief of fDi Magazine, a Financial Times Group publication. Jack Rogers, Editor in Chief of Business Facilities, moderated the discussion. View the keynote panel.

Philbin led off the session with an overview of SelectUSA, which was established by the Obama Administration in 2011 as the first federal-level foreign direct investment agency, part of the U.S. Commerce Dept.’s International Trade Administration. Philbin urged U.S. locations to highlight the leadership position of the United States as a key attraction for foreign investors.

“If we’re going to sell our location, our state, or our sector to foreign investors who come over, we really have to start with the United States. We have so much to tell — the story is fantastic. It’s very important to start with what’s so valuable about the United States,” she said.

After noting that the U.S. is the world’s most attractive and diverse consumer market, with 320 million people; a GDP of more than $17 trillion; 30 percent of the world’s R&D expenditures; and 15 of the world’s top-rated universities, Philbin emphasized the value of trade agreements between the U.S. and 20 other nations as a strong magnet for FDI.

“More and more foreign companies are using our free-trade agreements as a platform for exports—20 percent of all the goods exported from the U.S. come from foreign-owned companies [manufacturing] in the United States,” she said. “The stability of the U.S market, our banking, legal, and regulatory system, assures people they can safely put their money and assets here. Foreign companies that come into the United States are treated the same as U.S.-based companies, and that’s a very powerful argument to make.”

The SelectUSA deputy director also urged locations to eschew a provincial mindset when striving to attract FDI. “It’s no longer state against state so much, it’s really the United States as a global destination for companies, and once they’re in the United States there’s often an opportunity for them to expand,” Philbin said.

One-on-one meetings between economic developers and growing companies are a hallmark of the LiveXchange event.

Fingar previewed data from fDi’s 2016 Global Trends Report, which tracks the number of projects and jobs created by greenfield FDI, as well as the total capital investment (CapEx) for these projects, based on complete statistics for the previous year. In 2015, the overall number of projects decreased globally by seven percent (to 11,930), but this was offset by a nine-percent increase in CapEx, she said.

The top source country for FDI in 2015 was the United States, Fingar reported, but India overtook China for the first time as the top destination country for projects and CapEx. “India passing China is the big FDI story of the past year,” she said.

Fingar also singled out the renewable energy sector as a rising generator of FDI, challenging the traditional dominance of fossil fuels. “It’s really remarkable,” she said. “Renewable energy is now [the third-largest sector] for global CapEx and market share for greenfield projects.”

LiveXchange 2016 also featured a general session, Making Strategic Expansion Decisions, in which Betty McIntosh, senior managing director of Cushman & Wakefield, shared her insights on the real estate services giant’s approach to the site selection process. View the Making Strategic Expansion Decisions general session.

Two additional LiveXchange sessions — Negotiating Incentives, Land Costs and Energy Costs and Global Logistics Strategies — are also available to view online.

Coene announced the 2017 LiveXchange event will take place April 23-25, 2017 at the Hyatt Centric Park City in Park City, Utah. If you’d like to be notified when registration opens, please click here.