This week we were in Washington, DC at the SelectUSA Investment Summit. This is a conference and exhibition put on annually by the U.S. Department of Commerce to encourage foreign investment in the USA. Every United States State and territory is represented with an exhibit booth. Some companies exhibited and well as other local and regional Economic Development Organizations (EDOs) like Shale Crescent USA.
This year, SelectUSA had a record attendance of over 5,000 people from all over the world. Shale Crescent USA was an exhibitor. Nathan, the SCUSA president, Lynnda my wife and business partner and I worked the booth. I’ve worked a lot of tradeshows during my career and this one was off the charts incredible. We had 4 meetings set up prior to the event in 2022. This year we had 12. More important all 12 were held as scheduled, without any no-shows.
Sunday afternoon. Lynnda and I attended an “open boat” reception, something we’ve never done. We met some interesting people. The reception was hosted by a couple who is contracted to market SelectUSA. They live on their boat. I did a video for them in February they recorded from the Florida Keys. In spring they bring the boat north.
We left the boat for a meeting with a couple from Pakistan. Mudassir and his brother own a company with 3 plants in Pakistan employing over 500 people. We met Mudassir’s brother at SelectUSA in 2019 and have been working with them since. They want to sell into the large U.S. market. Getting their raw materials in Pakistan is a problem. Their company has some unique technology and products like a biodegradable plastic bag and colored fabrics without dyes. We had dinner with Mudassir and his wife, Sitwat, who is a doctor and a mom. Lynnda and Sitwat had a lot in common to talk about. We now have new friends half-way around the world. I introduced Mudassir to people at the WVDO and Jobs Ohio who are working on possible sites and incentive packages.
We met with other companies from Pakistan and companies from Romania, India, South Korea, Japan, Columbia, Jamaica, Turkey, Italy, Ireland, UAE, United Kingdom, Jordan, Mexico, Canada, Saudi Arabia, Ukraine and Myanmar (formerly Burma). Compared to 2022, companies this year came to us with specific projects or investments they want to bring to the USA. Most are in the process of deciding where in the USA they want to locate. For example, an Irish company is looking to expand. They can expand their South Carolina site but are now considering SCUSA because of our energy advantage and proximity to much of the auto industry they serve. A Japanese company has a large project and is looking at Ohio and several other Midwest states. They wanted to understand the energy advantages of SCUSA in Ohio.
A company from India has a “small” $150 million project they want to build in SCUSA because of our location, energy and resource advantage. We introduced them to the state EDOs in SCUSA and have follow-ups planned to make sure they are moving forward. These are just a few examples. Lynnda worked the booth and helped coordinate meetings while Nathan and I met with prospects. In addition to our scheduled meetings numerous people came to the booth. We were so busy, lunch was a slider woofed down between meetings. On Thursday, the last day of SelectUSA, a prospect “found me” at the Jobs Ohio exhibit where I was introducing one of our prospects to Jobs Ohio. Lynnda sent him. He said, “I was looking for you.” We met right there and have a call next week.
Why are these companies are interested in coming to the USA and the Shale Crescent USA? They don’t care about many of the things we hear in the media and from Washington, like U.S. politics, diversity, gender, even climate They are interested in making money. They see the USA as a stable, safe place to locate in and invest. The USA has a large market to sell their products to. We have dependable abundant natural gas. (They already have renewables.) They are paying more for energy than we are in the USA. They know what an energy crisis looks like. They care about the planet. Profitability is essential. They want their manufacturing facility to have the energy and raw materials to run 24/7 without interruption. They appreciate our great universities for tech support. Availability of capable workers is one of their major concerns.
Some thoughts and quotes. People around the world are more alike than they are different. They care about their families. They want their children to have a better life than they do. They want to live in peace. They want to make money and have a successful business. They are concerned about the Ukraine war and want it to end. “It is a waste of human lives and money.” “Both countries are losers.” They don’t trust Putin. No one liked China except the Chinese. They all had their own stories about why. “Americans and Europeans think differently. America was founded by people who left Europe.” Middle Eastern countries don’t want American democracy. They have their own culture. “In Iraq, Americans killed Sandam Hussein then destroyed the stable police force leaving the country in shambles and unsafe for people.” We can learn a lot by talking to people around the world. We can find understanding and commonality. Business can bring people together and increase the middle class in countries. People in countries with a large middle class have a lot to lose by war. Raising the standard of living of people brings peace. It also requires energy.
SelectUSA was a beginning. Now the work starts as we evaluate our contacts and follow up working with state people and our partners in the region to make the projects discussed a reality in the Shale Crescent USA.
Greg Kozera/, [email protected] is Director of Marketing and Sales for Shale Crescent USA. www.shalecrescentusa.com (You can follow SCUSA on Facebook) He is a professional engineer with a Masters in Environmental Engineering and over 40 years’ experience in the energy industry. Greg is a leadership expert, high school soccer coach, professional speaker, author of four books and numerous published articles.