Recent events abroad are a sobering reminder of what makes the US market such an attractive location for foreign direct investment.
Long considered a relatively solid democratic gateway from Europe to Asia, the Ataturk airport attack and subsequent failed Istanbul coup attempt in Turkey will largely erase the positive perceptions many international companies had about investing in this emerging economy.
During a trip abroad to Belgium in June, I was not surprised to the see the increased security efforts at the Brussel’s Airport. The unpreventable terrorist attack in March of this year killed 32 innocent people and resulted in the redoubling of efforts to secure Europe’s capitol.
The trauma was still apparent as uniformed military personnel were stationed at every door and walkway. While almost no price is too great to protect human life, I could not help but wonder how much additional funding was required to give only an incremental sense of safety in the aftermath.
Even the“Brexit” vote last month has dulled the luster of the EU, jeopardizing financial solidarity in the world’s largest trading bloc. Threatening a return of disjointed, nationalist-centered economic policies, European countries will hold their collective breath during the separation process hoping other members won’t seek to abandon the union.
External threats to a company’s profitability are around every corner and can range from erratic and unsound political policies to an unsettled workplace. After all, if basic human security is in doubt, no amount of cheap labor can make up for lost productivity
While certainly not immune from violent assaults and social turmoil, the economic and political stability and strength America offers creates a haven for worldwide capital investment. As a model of constancy, globally-competitive manufacturing companies know the US represents a low-risk environment despite not always offering the lowest cost.
South Carolina ranks second in the nation for the percentage of workforce employed by foreign manufacturers of US affiliates with over 117,000 Sandlappers working for about 1,200 international firms. Increased interest in our state from across the globe has increased and is the product of decades of effort by the state’s economic development team.
For example, SC Department of Commerce and several local ED officials attended the Farnborough Air Show in July to showcase the Palmetto State’s ability to satisfy the exacting labor demands of the aviation and aerospace industries.
Like the established automobile cluster, South Carolina has the potential to benefit as this important sector looks to increase international investment while shielding assets from uncertainty.
Reinforcing to the world that South Carolina combines one of the safest, most risk-averse locations on the planet with a relatively lower cost of operations puts our state in the position to benefit from the current instability that is affecting even the most well-established countries.
About the author:
MARK FARRIS, CEcD
President and CEO
Greenville Area Development Corporation
Mr. Farris holds a Master’s Degree in Planning from Clemson University, as well as a B.A. in Political Science and a B.S. in Secondary Education. While at Clemson, he was a member of Tau Sigma Delta Honorary Fraternity, and Clemson University Dean’s List. He is also a graduate of the University of Oklahoma’s Economic Development Institute and achieved Certified Economic Developer (CEcD) status in 1993.