March 26, 2013
Partnership Forging FDI
Economic Development team making inroads in India
The Cincinnati USA Partnership for Economic Development met with business leaders of 20 firms last week during its first international mission of 2013. The trip was a “huge success,” according to Trevor Hamilton, director of the Cincinnati USA Partnership for Economic Development. “Over the course of the five business days that we were on the ground in Delhi and Mumbai at the India Engineering & Sourcing Show, we were able to have 20 one-on-one meetings with businesses that have expressed interest in the U.S. market. They were receptive to meeting with us to learn more about not only U.S. market opportunities, but more specifically about opportunities in the Cincinnati region.”
Hamilton continues, “We—Anil Srivastava, Chief Technology Officer, Machining R&D with TechSolve and Rayan Coutinho, President, Indian American Chamber of Commerce of Greater Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky, and Attorney at Law, Wood & Lamping – were enthused by the level of interest expressed by target companies aligned with the Partnership ‘cluster’ strategy of focusing on select economic sectors. Further, these companies had definite interest in hearing about opportunities in the U.S., and have demonstrated potential for investment opportunities here.”
India Trip: By the Numbers
A typical week-long mission is comprised of 12-14 pre-established meetings, carefully vetted over several months – or longer. “The substantial increase in the number of pre-confirmed meetings nearly doubled our expectations,” reports Hamilton, “which illustrates a growing interest in Indian-owned companies’ U.S. market consideration – and in what we have to say about the Cincinnati USA region.”
He continues, “Getting 1:1 time with decision-makers at 20 firms demonstrates our continued and sustained efforts in international business relationship building. It takes time and persistent, strategic effort to build the right relationships, and we are starting to see that happen for us in India. We met with a tremendously diverse group of companies, which presents great potential for ROI in terms of short- and long-term opportunity. Two companies on our schedule have the potential to establish a presence in the U.S. within the next 12-18 months, and we were able to lay groundwork with three firms now expected to visit Cincinnati sometime in the next year as a result of our trip.”
Planting the seeds
Looking for opportunities to recruit foreign-owned companies, support the growth of businesses in our region, and building strategic alliances for contract manufacturing, licensing and technology transfer awareness, reciprocal distribution agreements and joint ventures takes time. “You’ve got to tell the success stories of the region,” offers Hamilton, “and the best story-telling takes place in person. By doing so, you’re planting the seeds of capability during the development period of companies who are at the opposite end of the spectrum. Companies looking to grow over the long-term may still be growing their market share in the U.S. and may not be ready now. But, by committing to establishing relationships during developmental stages, it’s more likely that we’ll be top of mind when the time comes for a location decision.”
He continues, “The diversity of the companies we met with spans service, manufacturing, automotive, IT and bioscience – a good cross-section of the clusters that the Partnership is targeting for future development. Plus, they have the wherewithal to consider markets in the U.S., and the level of diversity promises to offer a vast array of employment options when that time comes.”
Why is FDI important?
Foreign direct investment (FDI) plays a major role in the internationalization of businesses in Cincinnati USA. New markets and marketing channels, and access to new technology, products and skills, help fuel innovation of the region’s fastest growing sectors which, according to Cincinnati USA Partnership for Economic Development vice president Trevor Hamilton, “truly offset risk and long incubation periods.” And, according to Hamilton, it all starts with relationships – and awareness. “The 500+ foreign-owned companies here that employ 50,000 area residents began and continue to operate here because of our unique value proposition: good quality of life, access to workforce, transportation infrastructure and tax structure conducive to business. Trips abroad help us better market the region to generate and manage prospects – and win projects, which translate to more opportunities – and ultimately achieve our regional goal of 200,000 net new jobs by 2020.”
“With 35 new projects over the last 12 months, it’s clearly a very exciting time for our region, and the Cincinnati USA Partnership is proudly working with like-minded organizations at the helm of this movement to help build on this explosive growth.”
As the Partnership executes its cluster-based economic development strategy here and abroad, its FDI efforts focus on six global markets of India, Germany, France, Japan, Israel and the UK. “Japan, Germany, the UK and France have made considerable investments in the region since the Partnership began building critical relationships in these countries,” reports Denyse Ferguson, executive director, Cincinnati USA Partnership, “and Israel and India are showing great potential.”
She continues, “Our successful, cluster-based strategy of growing key industries in the region within specific clusters of Advanced Manufacturing; BioHealth; Consumer Products/Brand Development; Finance, Insurance and IT; Food Processing and Agriculture; and Advanced Energy gives us a true competitive position over hundreds of other regions in the U.S. vying for FDI.”
The Partnership will conduct missions in Germany in April and France in June; Japan, Germany and Israel this fall, and a first quarter 2014 trip to the UK.
The Cincinnati USA Partnership is responsible for attracting new business, jobs and investment to the three-state, 15-county region at the intersection of Ohio, Kentucky and Indiana in the Midwest region of the United States. This is achieved by marketing the region domestically and internationally, generating and managing prospects, identifying retention issues and opportunities and partnering with local communities to win projects. The work of the Partnership is supported through a five-year campaign with investment from nearly 200 companies, public economic development organizations and more than 1,000 Chamber members.