On June 18-20, 2017, I was privileged to join Intersect Illinois, the Illinois Department of Commerce, and 19 peer organizations and utilities to promote our many fantastic locations at this year’s SelectUSA Foreign Direct Investment Summit. This year’s summit, held again in Washington DC, was the largest yet, attended by more than 2600 foreign firms; foreign and international trade groups; federal, state and local economic development organizations; consultants and political guests.
Each morning began with a number of excellent topic discussions from both the public and private sector, showcasing innovative ways for foreign entities to begin or advance their operations in the US, as well as sharing predictions for the future of commerce and industry as we enter the era of digital immersion. The number one concern of foreign employers remains the worker skills gap. Other topics of concern included tax reform, regulatory reform and the need for infrastructure improvement.
The trade show floor was open each day from 1:30 to 5:00 pm, where our team managed a large booth centrally located in the arena. This great networking opportunity yielded five direct leads with firms, 10 alliances with international trade associations and government agencies, and six indirect connections who I have put in contact with area businesses or educational institutions to see if they could benefit one another. The initiative also brought me much closer to our state partners and other area Economic Development Organizations. The next step will be to nurture these leads and develop relationships that result in investment within Jefferson County.