Chicago Council on Global Affairs Unveils Plan to Attract More Foreign Investment to the Region

September 10, 2012
Recommends World Business Chicago Serve as Lead Investment Promotion Agency 

Today, The Chicago Council on Global Affairs unveiled a plan for attracting foreign direct investment (FDI) to support long-term economic growth for the Chicagoland area. The detailed report, Foreign Direct Investment: Globalizing Chicago's Economic Development Plans, builds on the economic development framework laid out in World Business Chicago’s Plan for Economic Growth and Jobs. It highlights Chicago’s strengths and competitive advantages, analyzes the strategies of leading global cities, and offers specific, actionable recommendations that the region can take to improve its performance in increasing investment from foreign companies.

Michael H. Moskow, former head of the Chicago Federal Reserve Bank and vice chair and senior fellow on the global economy at The Chicago Council, and William A. Osborn, former CEO and chairman of Northern Trust Corporation, co-chaired the study group of 18 prominent local business and civic leaders convened by the Council to examine the opportunities and put forth recommendations.

“Foreign direct investment can be an important element in Chicago’s economic development efforts, and the study group believes that the region has the potential to become a North American hub for foreign investment,” says Moskow. “Chicago has a number of strengths, including more than 1,500 foreign-owned companies that currently employ approximately 200,000 people in the region, and our report seeks to build on this foundation.”

“We looked at what a number of global cities have done to implement FDI strategies and increase their economic growth,” added Osborn. “Given the global nature of commerce today, Chicago can no longer afford to lag behind its peers in attracting FDI.”

The report concludes that a successful FDI initiative requires:
  • Strategy: The most successful cities do not cast a wide net but identify companies in industries that play to their strengths. The Chicago region can make progress by pursuing foreign-owned companies with established U.S. operations and focusing on high-potential targets, such as China.
  • Leadership: Elected officials and government agencies across the 7- county region, must better coordinate efforts and resources toward a common goal. 
  • Capacity: The global cities that have been most successful at attracting FDI have designated a lead investment promotion agency. The study group recommends designating World Business Chicago as the one-stop shop for foreign investment and augmenting its scope and capabilities to coordinate FDI activities and help develop and implement a focused strategy.
“The strategies in The Chicago Council’s report dovetail with World Business Chicago’s current economic development efforts,” noted Michael Sacks, vice chairman of World Business Chicago. “We will continue to create a welcoming business environment for foreign direct investment and work to bring more international companies to the Chicago region.”