The bright lights of New York have again outshone every other city on either American continent. The metropolis attracted 819 FDI projects between 2012 and 2016 – the highest number of all locations in this study. Most investment in the city was derived from companies from western Europe (68.6%), followed by Asia-Pacific (14.8%) and North America (6.7%).


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fDi American Cities of the Future 2017/18 – FDI strategy winners

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New York also enjoys the highest GDP of all locations in the rankings. São Paulo received the second highest number of inward FDI projects (470) and was the only Latin American city to rank among the Top 10 American Cities of the Future.

The biggest movement in this year’s ranking is seen among Canadian locations. Toronto has risen from sixth to fourth place, Montreal enters the top 10 at five and Vancouver has risen from eighth place in the 2015/16 ranking to take sixth place in 2017/18.

Top 10 American cities of the future overall

Toronto holds steady

Toronto’s share of total Canadian FDI has held relatively steady at about one-third of all investment. The lion’s share of investment in the city is in sales, marketing and support and business service activities (together accounting for 72% of Toronto’s inward FDI). 


Montreal has become a more important Canadian FDI hub in recent years. Its share of Canadian FDI has increased from 6% in 2012 to just over 13% in 2016. However, its share peaked in 2014 when the city attracted nearly 17% of Canada’s FDI. French companies were the biggest source of Montreal’s inward FDI between 2012 and 2016, accounting for 60 projects. By comparison, companies from the US invested in 50 projects.

Historically, France and the US have been Montreal’s biggest source markets for FDI. A bilateral Canada-France joint action plan was signed for 2012-13, with the aim of strengthening trade and economic relations and the impact on FDI has been notable. Between 2013 and 2015, France was Montreal’s largest source market for FDI by a considerable margin. However, in 2016 the US overtook France once again. But a more protectionist and anti-globalist White House being in charge of US trade and investment policy could lead to a continuation of this rollercoaster pattern.

Vancouver tech attraction

Vancouver, on Canada’s west coast, is fDi’s Large American City of the Future for 2017/18. The city tops the rankings in Economic Potential and Business Friendliness in the Large City category. Vancouver has a healthy economy, with a high GDP per capita and an unemployment rate of 4.9%. The city welcomed 99 FDI projects between 2012 and 2016, nearly one-third of which was in the software and IT services sector.

Software FDI in the city has been increasing, with major investments from IT giants including Amazon, Microsoft and Hewlett-Packard. In June 2016, US-based Microsoft created 450 jobs in Vancouver with the establishment of a new engineering centre, bringing its headcount in the city to 750. Vancouver has developed a reputation as a strong location for investment in the software sector, with China-based Hanhai Zhiye choosing to launch its clean tech innovation centre there, citing the “impressive technology sector and focus on innovation and the environment”. 

Mississauga, part of Ontario’s Greater Toronto Area, tops the ranking of fDi’s Mid-Sized American Cities of the Future 2017/18, also topping the Business Friendliness ranking in this classification. The city recorded the highest number of advanced manufacturing companies of all locations, with almost one-fifth of all FDI into the city between 2012 and 2016 in the industrial machinery, equipment and tools sector.

Cementing its reputation as a hub for advanced manufacturing, Mississauga is home to the Canadian Manufacturing Tech Show, which is held at the International Centre facility, and the Advanced Manufacturing Canada Conference, which is being held at the show in 2017. 

Sunnyvale reigns

Sunnyvale, in California’s Silicon Valley, is placed first in the Small Cities classification, and 10th in the overall ranking. The city is a tech hub, with more than one-third of investment into the software and IT services sector, and over one-fifth into the communications sector. Germany’s FEV, which specialises in engine components, established an office in the city, citing its talented resources and culture of innovation and new technology as reasons for investing.

Sunnyvale tops the Economic Potential ranking for Small Cities, helped by its strong record for patents granted, which amounted to more than 34,000 in the decade to 2015. The city’s library is an official Patent and Trademark Resource Center, one of only seven in California.  

Wilmington, on the banks of the Delaware River, is the leading American City of the Future in the Micro City classification. It was the source city for 71 FDI projects between 2012 and 2016, and has the highest number of outward FDI projects per 100,000 people of all locations studied, helping it top the ranking for Micro Cities in the Economic Potential category. The city has seven ports within 100 kilometres, and connections to 30 international destinations from Philadelphia International Airport, just over 30 kilometres from the city.

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