Set Up Shop in the U.S., Government Says

New SelectUSA program aimed at bringing companies back to U.S. and encouraging foreign businesses to take up residence.

Looking to spur economic growth and job creation, U.S. Commerce Secretary Gary Locke announced on June 15 the creation of SelectUSA. The task of the group, led by Barry Johnson, will to be "encourage foreign businesses to operate in the United States, ask U.S. and foreign businesses to expand and grow in the United States, and help U.S. businesses operating outside our borders to return their previously off-shored operations back to the United States," according a statement issued by Secretary Locke.

The organization will provide assistance to individual states in order to address federal "red tape" issues through a new interagency investment facilitation task force. It will actively promote the United States as the best market for business operations in the world, and will consolidate all information on federal programs and services available to companies that operate in the United States to a one-stop web portal.

"America too often finds itself competing on a 21st century playing field using a 20th century playbook. In recent years, we have been losing ground to our foreign competitors in attracting and retaining business investment and have seen U.S. jobs move overseas," Locke said. "In our increasingly global business environment, SelectUSA will help keep businesses in the United States and attract new businesses from around the world."

Both domestic businesses and U.S. subsidiaries of foreign firms play an important role in the U.S. economy, the Commerce Department explained. U.S. subsidiaries of foreign firms support over 5 million jobs -- accounting for over 10% of U.S. private-sector capital investment -- nearly 15% of annual research and development expenditures, and nearly 20% of U.S. exports.

"If ever there was a time to aggressively market the U.S. as a place to do business, the time is now. In the race to 'win the future' -- it's the country that successfully attracts the world's investment that will ultimately win," said Nancy McLernon, CEO of the Organization for International Investment.

While the National Association of Manufacturers supported the new initiative it continued to push for regulatory reform. "While the SelectUSA program is a good start to reducing obstacles for businesses, more still need to be done to ease the regulatory burden on large and small manufacturers which dampens job growth," said Frank Vargo, vice president, International Economic Affairs at NAM.

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