GOING GLOBAL

January 20, 2016


If you do not believe we live in a global economy I would ask you to take another look.  I live in Chattanooga, Tennessee.  We are not a large community as can be seen from the information below:

Quick People Facts

We are a growing community as is Tennessee but a metropolis—not quite.  Our tax base is definitely conducive to investment by foreign companies and our ability to make those companies feel welcome is, in my opinion, unparalleled.  We call it Southern-fried hospitality.  With that being the case, let’s look at those companies that have chosen to place their US commercial businesses in our city.

CANADA

  • Woodbridge Group
  • Resolute Forest Products
  • Chattanooga Seating

GREAT BRITAIN

  • Home Services

BELGIUM

  • Beaulieu
  • IUC

FRANCE

  • Chattem
  • Plastic Omnlum

SPAIN

  • Gestamp

GERMANY

  • Volkswagen
  • Wacker
  • T-Mobile
  • BASF

TURKEY

  • Kordsa

SAUDI ARABIA

  • Mattex Group

CHINA

  • Yanfeng
  • Vanguard Trailer
  • GE/Roper

JAPAN

  • Komatsu
  • Denso
  • Toyo Seat

BRAZIL

  • Pilgrim’s Pride

Just over this past year, several foreign businesses have announced plans to invest nearly $300 million in the local economy, not including the $600 million VW is already spending on facility expansion to make the new sport utility vehicle late this year.  China-based Yanfeng Automotive Interiors has plans to invest $55 million into their facility in Chattanooga to supply assemblies for VW.  Vanguard National Trailer Corp, subsidiary of China International Marine Containers, is making plans for a $30 million facility in Dade County with plans to employ 400 people. Spanish auto supplier Gestamp is investing $180 million and now building at three separate sites in Chattanooga. That company, which already has a plant in the city, plans to employ 500 additional workers to supply VW and other auto manufacturers in the South. German-based Wacker is bringing online its new facility in Charleston, Tennessee. Wacker is spending $2.4 billion (yes that’s with a “B”.) which is a record-breaking investment for a single business in Tennessee.

Foreign-owned businesses, after the Haier purchase of GE Appliances, will employ approximately 10,000 people in the Chattanooga area.   This is according to the Chamber of Commerce.  When I mention area, I include the tri-state region of East Tennessee, North Georgia and North Alabama.

In looking at Tennessee relative to foreign investment, we see the following:

The Volunteer State is home to 864 foreign-based establishments that have invested over $30.1 billion in capital and employ more than 116,000 Tennesseans. And Tennessee continues to proactively identify and recruit new foreign direct investment (FDI) into the state in addition to increasing Tennessee exports. Our state now has offices courting foreign direct investment in Japan and Canada. We also have offices seeking export opportunities for Tennessee companies in Mexico, China, the United Kingdom and the European Union. This investment demonstrates Tennessee’s commitment to competing globally for business and jobs, not something most states can claim.

In 2013 alone, the Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development projects accounted for fifty-two (52) commitments from foreign-owned businesses that created 9,215 jobs and $1.68 billion in capital investment. This FDI accounted for nearly forty (40) percent of all Tennessee’s new jobs committed last year and nearly one-third of all capital investment committed in the state. These major foreign projects included South Korean-owned Hankook Tire (1,800 new jobs, $800 million investment), Japanese-owned Calsonic Kansei (1,200 new jobs, $109.6 capital investment) and Swiss-owned UBS (1,000 new jobs, $36.5 million capital investment).

Tennessee led the nation in jobs created by foreign investment in 2013, according to the new Global Location Trends Report by the IBM Institute. The annual report measures job commitments due to direct investments by foreign companies. Foreign companies have 864 operations in Tennessee, representing more than 116,000 jobs and an investment of more than $30.1 billion. The state was No. 1 in terms of raw number of jobs and jobs per capita, according to the report, which is held up as an industry standard in the economic development community. Tennessee runs economic development recruitment offices in Canada and Japan, along with export assistance offices in Mexico, the U.K., the European Union and China.

Tennessee believes in high expectations, low debt and a pro-business regulatory environment. Tennessee is a right-to-work state with no personal income tax on wages.  These two facts act as a magnet for investment consideration by investors.    State and local tax burdens represent some of the lowest in the country. We have the lowest debt per capita, and our state budget operates with a healthy surplus.

In my opinion, one of the reasons Tennessee and Chattanooga have attracted foreign investment is our belief in the Sister Cities Program.  Chattanooga is a sister city to the following cities across the globe.

  • Wuxi, China
  • Hamm, Germany
  • Wolfsburg, Germany
  •  Givatayim, Israel
  •  Gangneung, Korea
  • Nizhnii Tagil, Russia-

I have been told the relationships developed between Chattanooga and her sister cities is not only cultural but definitely commercial.  The visits shared have given foreign cities a great perspective on a fairly small Southern, progressive city and they like what they see.

More and more cities in the United States are working to attract foreign investment hoping to provide job opportunities for their residents.  Governors providing leadership for their states recognize the fact that American workers are the best trained with a great work ethic.  They can do those jobs required.

I certainly welcome you to Chattanooga and hope you can come a stay awhile.  We would love to have you for a visit.

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