Summit Aids Foreign Investment in US
American Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker says now is a great time to invest in the United States.
She made the comment earlier this week in a speech to an international business gathering in Washington, D.C. Business owners and investors from around the world attend the SelectUSA Investment Summit.
Pritzker said the U.S. economy is almost 15 percent larger than it was in 2009. She said 14.5 million more people are now employed. And she said the U.S. economy is growing faster than that of any other nation.
President Barack Obama also spoke at the conference Monday. Obama said America leads the world in "cutting-edgemanufacturing." He also said "no other country is home to more foreign direct investment than the United States."
But investing in the U.S. is not always easy. Small and medium-size businesses can find investing in America difficult.
"When they look at the United States, they see you've got 50 states, plus the territories, and so sometimes they just don't know where to start. And you know, whenever you invest in a new country, it's a new country, so it's a foreign system and you need to learn about it. So that's why SelectUSA was created -- to help people understand the system."Felicia Pullam is the director of outreach for SelectUSA.
Pullam said companies can find all the resources about America in one room.
One of those companies is 85°C Bakery Café. Gloria Gorden is its human resources director.
"The company started in 2004 in Taiwan. As of now we have more than 900 stores in Asia, primarily Taiwan and China. We have 19 stores, as of last Friday, in the U.S., all of which are in California. We are looking to expand out of state toward the end of this year..."
Gorden said her company wants to open restaurants in the states of Texas and Washington, as well as in Washington D.C. and New York City.
She said opening in California was hard because of its many business rules. She said she wished the company had done more research about starting a business there.
Taner Basaga is the general manager of flooring manufacturer Yildiz Entegre USA. He said his company has been in the U.S. states of North Carolina and Alabama for about six years. He said it hopes to build more factories in other parts of America.
Basaga said getting started in the United States was easy for his company. He said "we came with capital, [and] we did a ...study."
Basaga had advice for companies wishing to come to America. In his words, "spend a lot of time and try to understand the country first."
Not every company that attended the conference is established in the U.S.
Xanga and InnovAir is a real estate, marketing and development company based in Hungary. Nándor Nagy told VOA that his company wants to open offices in the U.S.
He described America as "a big market with great possibilities and strong rule of law." He said that, after the conference, he was going to search for places to establish a factory in the U.S.
The "unbeatable" South
Many foreign investors go to the better-known U.S. cities, such as New York, Washington, Chicago and San Francisco. Gene Stinson is president of the Southern Economic Development Council. He was at the meeting to sell the "unbeatable potential" of doing business in 17 southern U.S. states.
"All of the critical components of doing business: transportation costs, energy, labor, all of those, as a rule, are less in our region than in other parts of the U.S."
This was the third SelectUSA Investment Summit. The number of foreign investors in attendance has increased each year. American business people from every state and two territories also attended.
The Commerce Department reports that, as of 2013, American affiliates of foreign companies directly employed 6.1 million people in the U.S.
I'm Caty Weaver.