Chicago, Illinois – Major City winner
Among the top North American destinations for inward FDI, Chicago has proved its FDI Strategy is a winning one. Named first for FDI Strategy in the Major City category, up from third last time, World Business Chicago (WBC) has seen some major developments in recent years. Staff numbers at the organisation have doubled since 2012, while funding has tripled.
The outward-looking agency has worked hard to put Chicago on the world map, signing a memorandum of understanding with China to be the official gateway city for FDI coming from a number of Chinese cities, including Beijing, Shanghai and Tianjin. Joint conferences and trade missions have followed since the agreement was signed in December 2013.
The city enjoys a sister relationship with 28 cities across the world, alongside agreements with London, Mexico, Paris and Toronto, which strengthen bilateral ties and bolster trade and investment. The organisation also works closely with the state of Illinois, which has representative offices in nine cities on five continents.
The state of Illinois offers reimbursement costs of up to 50% for very large company headquarter investments – just one of a host of financial incentives. The organisation’s website hosts a site-selection app that gives prospective investors a bird’s eye view of available Chicago real estate, services and incentives available at the city and state levels.
Cartagena, Colombia – Large City winner
A port city on Colombia’s north coast, Cartagena has a heavy industrial focus. Invest in Cartagena, the city’s investment promotion body, says it is the country’s main producer of petrochemical products and home to Latin America’s most modern oil refinery. A metal mechanic shipyard is among the most important in the country, and the port infrastructure has connections to 614 ports, 140 countries and 25 shipping lines.
Investors can benefit from preferential tax rates in Cartagena’s free zones (with income tax rates reduced to 15%) and exemption of value-added tax from raw materials, inputs and finished goods. There is an aftercare programme to assist investors who wish to expand or set up supply chains in the city.
Hamilton, Ontario – Mid-sized City winner
Hamilton, located 70 kilometres south-west of Toronto, is the winner for FDI Strategy in the Mid-sized City category. The city puts a focus on research, life sciences and advanced manufacturing, supported by the recent establishment of the new McMaster University Fraunhofer Project Centre for Biomedical Engineering and Advanced Manufacturing, which is dedicated to the development of new technologies for cell therapy and point-of-care diagnostics.
The city has an active online presence on most social media platforms, including Facebook, Twitter and YouTube, as well as an Invest TV channel, which produces short video clips featuring good economic news stories from the city. The ‘Hamilton Calling’ aftercare programme aims to visit 100 companies in the city each year, assisting with any resources they might need and ensuring they are well settled. A customer relationship management system is used to keep companies up to date with any events or additional programmes on offer.
Kingston, Ontario – Small City winner
Kingston Economic Development Corporation is responsible for attracting foreign investors to Kingston, on the southern shores of Canada’s Ontario province. The organisation boasts a multilingual website, which is considered to have been instrumental in attracting more than C$240m ($179.6m) of investment from Chinese and Portuguese investors. Agency staff are studying languages in an effort to better access investors in non-Anglophone markets. A rebranding of the agency’s website is scheduled for 2017, and the rebooted page will feature infographics and sophisticated visualisation technology.
On the ground in Kingston, C$16m has been allocated for an airport expansion, with additional infrastructure upgrades including C$20m for a new ferry to Amherst Island and a C$2m upgrade to the local VIA rail station. Investors can benefit from access to funding in amounts from C$5000 to more than C$1.5m, depending on the project. A new seed funding programme is scheduled for 2017, which will be available to companies with 10 or more employees to help with expansion.
Fredericton, New Brunswick – Micro City winner
The capital of New Brunswick, Fredericton has been named fDi Magazine’s winner for FDI Strategy in the Micro City category. Ignite Fredericton was established as part of the Canadian city’s Vision 2020 economic development strategy, and the agency is responsible for the promotion of Fredericton and for attracting investment.
The agency focuses on the development of knowledge-based investment, and its Innovation District is home to more than 60 R&D organisations. It also contains the knowledge park and the University of New Brunswick, and investors are eligible for R&D credits of up to 15% – one of many financial incentives available. Others include a small business investor tax credit (a 50% income tax credit up to C$125,000 ($93,318) per year) and the provincial New Brunswick sales tax rebate of 15% on business inputs and purchases.
New Brunswick’s chamber of commerce runs a business immigrant mentorship programme and the Hive programme, an immigrant incubator programme, boosting efforts to lead the province in immigration. Ignite Fredericton has good relationships with local education institutions, which have helped to create a workforce with the capabilities and experience that investors need.