Foreign direct investment (FDI) continues to be a major engine of growth in our country. Over the past five years, employment by foreign companies has risen much faster than overall private sector employment in the Carolinas and in the U.S. at large. Today, the U.S. remains the number one destination for FDI in the world. And among the states, South Carolina has the second-largest percentage of its workforce supported by global investment, and North Carolina beats the national average.
Those are a few of the highlights that Research on Investment President Steven Jast shared during the sixth annual Global Carolina Connections Conference on August 22. This year’s conference took place in Charlotte and featured presentations by a variety of international business and economic development leaders, including from major manufacturers, state government, and financial services companies.
My two co-founders and I started this conference to bring key players together to discuss the unique needs facing U.S. subsidiaries of internationally owned companies. We’ve hosted it in several cities and also use it as an opportunity to provide updates on the state of FDI in the region, as well as the challenges and opportunities that companies are encountering.
“It’s important to get that high-level view,” said Sven Schroer, CEO of HUESKER, a global geosynthetics manufacturer whose U.S. operations are based in North Carolina. “It is always good to stay up to date on what’s going on in the States. For example, we are very intimately involved in infrastructure construction. This has helped bring me up to speed on what the numbers are, what’s expected over the next couple years.”
Sven said the updates on the Charleston Harbor deepening and the inland port in Dillon were particularly valuable. The South Carolina Ports Authority’s director of strategic projects gave those updates as part of a panel on supply chain logistics. The CEO of the Economic Development Partnership of North Carolina also presented along with an executive from Austrian manufacturer Egger Wood Products. In addition, this year’s conference included an overview of the state of the workforce in the Carolinas, a presentation on Belgian investment in the region, and analysis of trends taking place with global commodities and corporate payments.
The gathering is also a chance for executives and others in the international community to build relationships and find support for their businesses.
“It was a pleasure meeting so many knowledgeable people,” said Paul De Sloover, CEO of DeSol Power Tiles, a manufacturer of solar roof systems. “I typically need to ‘look into the woods’ to find what I need. Here, I can tell you the support came to me. It was like one after another at this conference, so I’m very pleased with that.”
The seventh annual Global Carolina Connections Conference on international investment in the region will be hosted in 2019 in South Carolina. The organizers will be announcing more details in the near future and it is expected to build upon this year’s successful event in Charlotte.
For additional information about the Global Carolina Connections Conference and how Parker Poe supports international business, please contact me.