Digital Economic Development and Foreign Direct Investment

Foreign Direct Investment in the United States

Accounted for Nearly Three Trillion Dollars in 2014

A well rounded digital strategy can improve your Economic Development Organization’s access to valuable Foreign Direct Investment in your community.

Foreign direct investment (FDI) is an investment made by a company or individual in one country in business interests in another country, in the form of either establishing business operations or acquiring business assets in the other country, such as ownership or controlling interest in a foreign company.

Foreign Direct Investment in the United States accounted for nearly three trillion dollars in 2014[1]. This significant investment is due, in part, to foreign companies perceiving the United States as having numerous advantages, including access to vast consumer markets, a highly educated and talented workforce and a transparent regulatory environment. Because of these factors and others, the United States remains a competitive market for FDI and should have an active place in your organization’s marketing efforts.

The competitive process of attracting FDI is no longer limited to only large-budget EDOs. The digitalization of economic development – through instantaneous worldwide access to and distribution of digital content, combined with data analytics-driven targeting and marketing to identify and reach highly qualified prospects – has dramatically streamlined the efficiency, effectiveness and affordability of marketing for smaller EDOs to attract Foreign Direct Investment.

Implementing a well-rounded digital strategy that includes an FDI marketing component allows all EDOs the ability to leverage the unique benefits of their community to attract FDI.

Considerations that foreign companies make include access to new consumer markets, proximity to suppliers, overall operating cost, and a skilled workforce.

To apply digital economic development to your FDI efforts, start by asking these questions:

  1. Does your brand convey “open for business”?
  2. Have you tested and validated your brand messaging?
  3. Do you know which international markets are most interested and engaged?
  4. Can you leverage your partners and investors to expand your marketing efforts?
  5. What entry points are you able to create to begin a conversation?
  6. Do you know what content and marketing efforts about your area and brand are relevant to foreign investors?
  7. Are the international industries that are engaged the same industries as your target sectors?

As more digital savvy EDOs are able to market for Foreign Direct Investment, the importance of considering your own FDI digital strategy merits consideration.  It may be one more important part of your larger digital economic development strategy that incorporates brand, geographic market and workforce, and partner resources to create the best presentation to maximize opportunities.

To find out more about how digital economic development marketing can benefit not only your FDI strategy but also your entire economic development program, contact Clifford Ward at to learn more about USDM’s digital economic development resources for all your economic development efforts.

[1]Organization for International Investment – Foreign Direct Investment in the United States 2016 Report 

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