Atlanta, Georgia

Atlanta ranked first of all ‘major’ cities in the FDI Strategy category. The Metro Atlanta Chamber employs several strategies to promote Atlanta as an investment destination. These include marketing strategies for recruitment, education and quality-of-life initiatives as well as outbound trade and investment initiatives. The latter, in particular, has helped Atlanta’s outward FDI projects increase from 45 in 2013 to 85 in 2014, according to data from greenfield investment monitor fDi Markets.

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The outbound trade and investment initiative aims to “assist Metro Atlanta companies in finding international buyers, partners and distributors by connecting them to global investment opportunities and coordinating marketing trips”, according to the submission from Metro Atlanta Chamber. As part of the city’s sector-focused strategies, major growth sectors being targeted in the city include mobile technology, financial technology, clean technology, health information technology and cyber security.

Metro Atlanta Chamber claims that the city has 25% of the worldwide security revenue market, while AT&T Drive Studio in the city supports the mobile technology sector, providing a research facility for digital automotive innovation. Supporting these sector targets, Atlanta also offers a range of incentives for potential investors.

The Quality Jobs Tax Credit grants a credit of between $2500 and $5000 per job, providing the company creates at least 50 jobs in a 12-month period, and which pay wages at least 10% higher than the county average. Other incentives include an R&D tax credit and the Intellectual Capital Partnership Programme, which allows investors to “use resources of Georgia’s colleges and universities to meet their workforce needs, including access to college-educated employees, recent research and free business advice”.

Major contenders

Other contenders in the major classification included New York City and Chicago, which ranked second and third, respectively. New York City offers a compassionate social initiative, RISE:NYC, which helps companies affected by Hurricane Sandy in 2012 to protect against future storms and the adverse effects of climate change. Chicago, the third most populous city in the US, is looking eastwards to develop its FDI Strategy. In December 2013, its mayor, Rahm Emanuel, signed a memorandum of understanding with China – the first agreement of its kind from a US city. Chicago – now considered the official US gateway city for Beijing, Shanghai, Tianjin, Qingdao, Shenyang, Hangzhou, Wuhan and Chengdu – will benefit from reciprocal missions and business activity, which in 2014 resulted in more than $1bn in investments. This strategy is supported with an office base in Shanghai.

Austin, Texas

The Texan capital ranked first for FDI Strategy among all large cities. With an investment attraction budget of just below $1m, the city has developed creative initiatives to promote Austin as an investment destination. Local business organisation members have been appointed as Austin brand ambassadors, promoting the city when they travel internationally, giving an “exact and appropriate representation” of the city to potential investors, according to its submission. The city also works closely with the Austin Areas Translators and Interpreters Association, ensuring that an investor feels at ease and understood when considering the city as an investment destination.

Brampton, Ontario

A suburban city in the Greater Toronto Area, Brampton, which ranked first of all mid-sized cities for FDI Strategy, formulated a four-year development plan between 2011 and 2014 to target “proactive business development and marketing initiatives focused on key sectors and international geographical markets”. As part of its 2014 FDI Programme, 18 outbound trade missions were completed to destinations in Brazil, China, Europe and the US. The city now has in place a new four-year international plan, covering 2015 until 2018. A life sciences cluster of more than 800 businesses has developed in the city, which has seen employment increase in the sector by 50%. In April 2014, Israel-based Taro Pharmaceuticals created 140 jobs in Brampton with the opening of a manufacturing facility.

Richardson, Texas

With a population of just over 100,000 people, Richardson is well equipped to attract investment with a budget of $1.5m. Helping the city rank first among all small locations for FDI Strategy were several initiatives to attract foreign investors, including the Business Concierge Programme, which recruits members of the Richardson Chamber of Commerce and Metroplex Business Council to provide services such as accounting, legal and real estate services to newly arriving companies to help them become operational. Richardson also engages with other international cities, consulates and chambers of commerce, embarking upon trade missions to promote the city. Consultants for FDI 'lead generation' are also employed to arrange face-to-face meetings with potential investors.

Plattsburgh, New York

Ranking first of all micro locations for FDI Strategy, Plattsburgh (which sits on the north of New York state) looks primarily to Canada to attract investment. The city authorities work closely with border agencies going into Canada, encouraging export activity as well as FDI. Canadian companies are welcomed to 'How to do business in the US' workshops, for companies interested in investing in the US but wishing to stay close to their native country. The Quebec-NY corridor initiative aims to establish a “bi-national economic region”, according to the submission from Plattsburgh’s North Country Chamber of Commerce. Supported by a cluster-specific web presence – www.flyplattsburgh.com – the city is also focusing on the aerospace cluster, exploiting its close proximity to Montreal where a thriving cluster already exists. The city aims to forge strong links with Canadian companies, and become a “best friend”, or an expert location and first choice, for Canadian investors looking to the US.