Oakland County expertise leads to national economic development group appointment

Oakland County and its business development team have been appointed to FDI Frontlines Coalition – an economic development steering committee created by the Washington D.C.-based Organization for International Investment.

The appointment will be announced later this month at the 2015 SelectUSA Investment Summit in Washington D.C., said Oakland County Executive
L. Brooks Patterson. The Organization for International Investment (OFII) interacts with economic developers from across the United States to share best practices on direct foreign investment. Oakland County is the lone Michigan representative on the committee.

“We’re proud to have Oakland County’s economic development initiatives held in such high regard nationally,” Patterson said. “This appointment will continue to shed a positive light on Oakland County as a preferred business location for international companies.”

A four-person delegation of economic development officials from Oakland County – including Deputy County Executive Matthew Gibb and economic development Director Irene Spanos – are attending SelectUSA. The delegation is set to meet with more than 30 international companies from Asia, Europe and Canada who have expressed a desire to expand into the United States.

Oakland County is also partnering with the Michigan Economic Development Corp. for the event, set for March 22-24.

More than 40 countries are expected at SelectUSA, which is sponsored by the U.S. Department of Commerce and is held to encourage international investment in the United States. The attendee list is limited to 2,400 people and not everyone one applies is granted access to the two-day event. Ken Rogers, executive director of Automation Alley; and Kevin McKervey, president of the Southfield-based accounting firm Clayton & McKervey P.C., are scheduled to make presentations at the conference.

The county has long prided itself on the international diversity of its business investment. Thirty companies invested a total of more than $171 million in 2014 – more than a quarter of the $639 million total business investment tracked in the county for the year. The investment created 1,941 jobs.

More than 1,000 international firms from 38 countries have business locations in Oakland County. In 2014, more than two international businesses a month either expanded or located in Oakland County. “With the largest concentration of international firms in the United States, we often work with states to spread the message that the U.S. remains the best market in the world for foreign investment,” Gibb said.

The business development team has trips planned to Canada, China, France, Germany, Japan and Taiwan in 2015. Gibb will be joining Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder on a trade mission to China in August.