South-eastern states in the US have been brought closer to economic developers and investors from Poland at the South-east US-Poland Summit. The event, held in mid-April by cross-cultural education organisation Birmingham International Centre (BIC), gave representatives from Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Tennessee, Alabama, Georgia, Florida, South Carolina and Florida a chance to explore investment opportunities in Poland and learn more about the country’s economy.
More than 100 participants attended the event in Birmingham, Alabama, including representatives from the Polish Aviation Valley Association, the US Department of Commerce, the American Chamber of Commerce, and the Aerospace Alliance – which promotes the south-east US for aerospace investment.
Previously, BIC has organised events focusing on India, Spain and Ireland. According to BIC’s executive director, Irene Gross, Poland was chosen this time because of its “strong economic performance, despite the recession in Europe”.
However, linking Polish investors with investors from states such as Mississippi or Alabama may not be the most obvious choice, given that Poland and the south-east US do not have strong economic ties. Between 2008 and 2012, only 34 new projects into Poland from the south-east US were launched for an estimated capital expenditure of $246m, according to greenfield crossborder monitor fDi Markets. By comparison, total investments into Poland in that period was 1554 with an estimated capex of $32.5bn.
But according to Ms Gross, the summit should be seen as a first step towards strengthening economic ties between the regions. “Our economies have a lot of similarities, for example, in sectors such as aviation and energy, so there are a lot of opportunities out there, but people must know about them and about each other,” she says.
Ms Gross also says that the summit should not be seen as a one-off get-together for south-eastern US and Polish delegates, but a way to initiate dialogue between them. “There has been a lot of talk among the participants about going to the Paris Air Show [scheduled for June 2013], so they will meet there and continue working on their relationships,” she says.