North Carolina is a leading US destination for German investment, data from fDi Markets shows. With 62 new German projects between 2008 and 2012, the state ranked third in the US for projects originating in Germany, behind California and Texas.
In 2012 alone, the state recorded on average at least one German greenfield investment a month, with the most notable ventures being the decision by chemicals giant BASF to expand its Raleigh research and development facility for an estimated $33m and solar mounting systems firm Schletter’s decision to spend $27m on its new headquarters and production operations in Shelby, 70 kilometres east of Charlotte.
Overall, between 2008 and 2012 German companies invested more than $1bn in the state, created more than 4000 jobs and ranked at the top of the table of investors to the state, ahead of the UK and Canada. The majority of investments were located in industries such as industrial machinery, chemicals and medical devices, which collectively accounted for 43% of all new German projects launched in the state.
“Clustering means comfort. Investors gravitate towards places where their peers succeed. And that is the case with German investors looking at their fellow countrymen with an established presence in our states,” said David Swenson, senior vice-president of the Charlotte Regional Partnership economic development agency. Big industrial companies, such as BASF, car company Daimler and electronics firm Siemens, have been present in the Charlotte region, the biggest metropolitan area in the state, for more than four decades, according to Mr Swenson.
In July 2013, German investors gained another reason to eye North Carolina for investment; the German Association for International Co-operation (GIZ), an agency active in more than 130 countries, picked Charlotte as the site for its first US branch. Among the reasons for choosing Charlotte, including the strong footprint of German companies already operating in the region, Oliver Auge, a GIZ director, pointed to the state’s workforce development programmes. “Charlotte was chosen... because of its robust training infrastructure and strong advanced manufacturing sector,” he said, while one of the main activities of GIZ’s new enterprise would be working on closing the US middle-skills gap.