FDI Clusters

Small and Medium-Sized Cities in the South Attracting Foreign Direct Investment In a Big Way

There are many destinations in the South for foreign direct investment (FDI). Profiled here are the top small and medium-sized markets for FDI in the 15-state Southern region. These markets were chosen based on the number of projects they have captured from foreign companies over the last 25 years.



Montgomery, Ala., shown above, is home to more than 60 companies with headquarters outside the U.S.Montgomery, Ala.

In 2002, South Korea-based Hyundai Motor Company selected Montgomery, Ala., as the location of its first North American production facility. Hyundai Motor Manufacturing Alabama (HMMA) has invested more than $2.2 billion in its Montgomery facility. Montgomery’s International Family Support Program has assisted hundreds of families in a smooth transition to the city. Montgomery’s industrial base includes more than 60 companies with headquarters in Brazil, China, France, Germany, Ireland, Japan, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, Slovakia, South Korea, Spain, Taiwan and the U.K.

Cullman, Ala., is home to seven international manufacturing companies representing Germany, Japan, Australia, and Canada, accounting for 25 percent of manufacturing employment. Cullman, Ala.

Cullman is home to seven international manufacturing companies representing Germany, Japan, Australia and Canada, accounting for 25 percent of manufacturing employment. SB&D’s recognition of Cullman as a hub for foreign direct investment (FDI) acknowledges the tremendous growth and success of the international companies there. REHAU located in Cullman from Germany in 1995, and has grown to become Cullman’s largest employer. Topre America, Alabama Cullman Yutaka Technologies, and Cullman Casting are Japanese companies that employ over 1,100. Canadian companies Concours Mold Alabama and J.E. Lortie came to Cullman to provide injection mold maintenance and produce industrial safety products. Australian company Reliance Worldwide Corp. produces valves and plumbing accessories including the innovative SharkBite Pex system. These companies provide a strong foundation for Cullman’s large manufacturing sector.

Cullman’s pro-business leadership and dedication to ensuring companies continue to succeed long after they locate in the community gives foreign companies the confidence to bring business to Cullman. “The community is so open toward and supportive of industry. For a company originally from overseas, I think that means something. We feel welcome here, and I have never experienced as much support as I have in Cullman, Ala.,” said Albert von Pelser Berensberg, Plant Manager of REHAU Automotive.

Other small and medium-size FDI clusters in Alabama include Tuscaloosa County, Opelika, Auburn, Walker County, Talladega County, Limestone County, Mobile, Chambers County, Huntsville and Morgan County.


Mississippi County, Ark.

In addition to being one of the largest steel producing counties in the United States, Mississippi County boasts an impressive amount of foreign direct investment. Nucor-Yamato Steel, DENSO, Kagome Foods, Atlas Tube, IPSCO, Tenaris and SMS are just some of the companies that have found Mississippi County a welcoming place to invest in the U.S.

Backed by one of the finest workforce training centers in the American South, Mississippi County Economic Development has proven itself a solid partner that understands business to foreign companies looking for a place to do business. Companies from Canada, Europe, Russia, South America, Japan and China have all found Mississippi County a home away from home.

Other small and medium-size FDI clusters in Arkansas include West Memphis, Springdale, Paragould, Russellville, Jonesboro, El Dorado, Bentonville, Fayetteville, Fort Smith and Rogers.


Pasco County, Fla.

Pasco County is located in North Tampa Bay, and is growing at a rapid pace, with many foreign-owned companies. Pasco County enjoys foreign direct investment from Switzerland, Germany, France and Japan.

Swiss-owned METTLER TOLEDO recently invested over $30 million and built a 270,000-square-foot advanced manufacturing facility. The Pasco EDC serves as the primary contact for economic development in Pasco County and is a member of Global Tampa Bay, a three-county regional partnership with neighboring Hillsborough and Pinellas Counties to promote international trade and investment. Pasco EDC also offers a SMARTLandings program designed to help international ventures quickly establish a presence and develop knowledge domains and business relationships within Tampa Bay, Fla.  

Volusia County, Fla.

Global investment in the Greater Daytona Region of Florida has skyrocketed in recent years. Leading companies and site selectors have selected Volusia County, resulting in substantial capital investment and new job creation. Recent investments by these and other companies are capturing attention: B. Braun Medical (Germany); Tech Fit Robotic Surgery (Venezuela); Sea Max Light Sport Aircraft (Brazil) and Kingspan Industrial Building Products (Ireland)

Other small and medium-size FDI clusters in Florida include Winter Haven, Kissimmee, Vero Beach, Pensacola, Port St. Lucie, North Port, Okaloosa County, Bay County, St. Johns County, Sarasota and Santa Rosa County.


Griffin-Spalding County, Ga. 

Griffin-Spalding County, Ga., has attracted FDI from international partners from France, England, Italy, Japan, Germany and New Zealand, and is proud to have them operating within the community. The largest influx of FDI has come recently with the opening of the Griffin-Spalding Development Authority’s (GSDA) The Lakes at Green Valley — the only “eco” Park in Georgia.

The 570-acre mixed use development opened in 2014 and added Otsuka Chemical, Toppan USA, and then Marukan Vinegar. Rinnai followed in 2017, and opened in the interim in an existing facility. They became, in April 2018, the first major tankless water heater company to manufacture in North America. Another company has purchased a site but hasn’t been announced yet. With these developments, all of the investors in The Lakes at Green Valley are Japanese.

“Building relationships with our Japanese companies is very important to us. We want to be lifelong partners as they continue to grow in our community. With that said, we continue to work to keep our other international partners growing as well,” said GSDA Executive Director David M. Luckie. “Of course, this would not be possible without the support and confidence that existing investors have placed in us over the years along with the great assistance from the Georgia Department of Economic Development.”

Bryan County, Ga.

Bryan County, Ga., has had considerable success attracting FDI. Companies from Brazil, Israel, Germany and Canada have located in the community, and nearly 50 percent of people employed at local industries work at one of these companies. 

Bryan County has plenty to offer foreign companies; the publicly owned Interstate Centre has approximately 650 acres remaining for development and is located in a Military Zone, and privately owned Belfast Commerce Park has approximately 1,000 acres remaining and boasts a CSX Select Site.  Both parks have interstate frontage, are Georgia Ready for Accelerated Development (GRAD) Certified and have available infrastructure.

Henry County, Ga.

Just minutes from Atlanta and the Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport (the world’s busiest and most efficient airport), Henry County is a destination for global commerce. Henry connects businesses to the world with easy access to interstate highways, national train systems and global ports. Eighty percent of U.S. consumers are located within two flight hours or two days by highway. 

The presence of companies from Austria, France, Switzerland, South Korea, Italy, Japan and Sweden demonstrate that Henry is a prime global location for business. Henry County is proud to have companies like Luxottica, Alpla, Toppan Interamerica, and more innovating and growing there. 

Cartersville-Bartow County, Ga.

Located north of Atlanta on Interstate 75, Cartersville-Bartow County is Georgia’s 2017 International Community and home to 35 international firms including Toyo Tire, Anheuser-Busch/InBev, T.I. Automotive, Gerdau, Aquafil, voestalpine, Yanmar, Surya, Beauflor, and Constellium among others. With access to important markets, extensive infrastructure, a low cost of doing business, an educated and loyal workforce, rich natural resources, prepared industrial sites and collaborative community leaders, Cartersville-Bartow has proven successful in capturing FDI.  “The level of cooperation from the State of Georgia and Bartow County over the years continues to exceed our expectations,” said Toyo Tire President Don Bunn in a recent press release.

Forsyth County, Ga.

For a mid-sized community, Forsyth County has a tremendous amount of foreign direct investment with 75-plus international companies, including 20-plus headquarters. Germany is the most prominent country represented, but the county has recently attracted several companies from China. Success is driven by their strategic proximity to Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport, education system and executive-level quality of life. Forsyth has the  No. 1 school system in Georgia with highest ACT and SAT scores, and it has the most educated workforce. As the most affluent county in the state, Forsyth has abundant executive housing, recreation on Lake Lanier and an award-winning park system.

Other small and medium-size FDI clusters in Georgia include West Point, LaGrange, Hall County, Macon-Bibb County, Meriwether County, Carroll County, Dublin-Laurens County, Liberty County, Savannah, Coweta County, Fayette County, Jackson County, Cherokee County and Houston County.


Elizabethtown, Ky.

Elizabethtown, Ky., has enjoyed long-term growth in foreign direct investment from Belgium, England, France, Germany, India, Japan, Luxembourg, Mexico and The Netherlands. Elizabethtown’s prime central location, low energy prices, community attributes and more have landed new projects like India-based packaging giant Flex Films (2010) and The Netherland’s Eurotrol (2016), which produces quality control products for in vitro diagnostics. In addition, foreign investors’ success in Elizabethtown has led to multiple expansions. AGC Automotive (Japan), for example, has tripled its footprint since coming to Elizabethtown in the late 1980s, and the latest expansion at automotive supplier Metalsa (Mexico) will create 250 new jobs.

Other small and medium-size FDI clusters in Kentucky include Nelson County, Bowling Green, Clark County, Danville-Boyle County, Georgetown-Scott County, Christian County, Bullitt County, Shelby County, Simpson County, Marion County, Mercer County, Owensboro, Murray, Somerset and Richmond.


Southwest Louisiana

Over the last five years, the Lake Charles, La., metro has seen the highest job growth in the nation at 28.3 percent, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Lake Charles has created a net gain of 24,482 jobs in those five years. The 28.3 percent gain in jobs is almost four times the national rate of 7.2 percent over the past five years. Foreign-owned companies helped propel Lake Charles to the No. 1 market in job growth in the country.

The French industrial gas company Air Liquide has large operations in Lake Charles, as does Switzerland-based Lonza Group. LyondellBasell, based in The Netherlands, also has major operations in Southwest Louisiana. But South Africa-based Sasol is certainly one of the largest foreign manufacturers in the Southwest Louisiana region. Sasol’s Lake Charles Chemical Complex has seven manufacturing units situated on approximately 400 acres. The company’s primary products are used in the cleaning and personal care markets to manufacture ingredients for soaps, detergents, shampoos, cosmetics and more. Sasol also manufactures specialty chemicals used in mild abrasives, thickeners and pharmaceuticals, as well as in the enhanced oil recovery markets. Sasol is constructing a world-scale petrochemical complex near the Lake Charles Chemical Complex. The project will roughly triple the company’s chemical production capacity in the U.S. and enable it to build on its strong positions in robust and growing chemical markets.

Other small and medium-size FDI clusters in Louisiana include Lafayette,
St. Tammany Parish, St. James Parish, St. Charles Parish, Shreveport and Iberville Parish.


Columbus-Starkville-West Point, Miss.

The Golden Triangle region of Mississippi has attracted foreign direct investment for decades thanks to an aggressive economic development agenda and a business friendly community. These investments have resulted in billions in capital injected into Clay, Lowndes and Oktibbeha Counties and created more than 1,000 jobs.

Long-time resident companies like Valmet (Finland), Eka Chemical (Sweden) and Nammo Talley (Norway) initiated the FDI presence in Lowndes County, Miss., and it has grown since.

In more recent years, the Golden Triangle has attracted Airbus Helicopters (France), Stark Aerospace (Israel) and Yokohama Tire (Japan). In order to market to both foreign and domestic investment, the region has invested in a massive amount of infrastructure, including a regional airport, three ports, and four industrial parks containing three TVA-certified megasites. Together with development partners, the Golden Triangle contains more than 7,000 shovel-ready acres of community-owned property. Most recently, the community, with assistance from state and federal partners, constructed a $42 million workforce development facility called The Communiversity to house, and grow, East Mississippi Community College’s workforce and career technical programs.

Four universities within 90 miles of the region add to the quality of life and international offerings that the Golden Triangle brings to a company looking to relocate its business and employees there. “We’re competing, and winning, in a global economy,” said Joe Max Higgins Jr., CEO of the Golden Triangle Development LINK. “The Golden Triangle and its assets are highly attractive to this type of investment because of the successes of our current industrial landscape.”  To learn more about the Golden Triangle, visit www.gtrlink.org.

Tishomingo County, Miss.

Located at the intersection of the Tennessee River and the Tennessee-Tombigbee Waterway, Tishomingo County, Miss., has worked hard to land foreign direct investment from Canada, Germany, Brazil and Luxembourg. FDI has been attracted by aggressive local leadership with a long-term successful recruitment record, an experienced manufacturing workforce, transportation options and competitive incentives.

Creating over 2,300 manufacturing jobs and $380 million in private investment over the past ten years, Tishomingo County is an attractive and profitable location for future FDI.

Tupelo-Lee County, Miss.

Tupelo-Lee County has become a magnet for foreign direct investment in the South. As a hub for business, healthcare, retail and manufacturing in Northeast Mississippi, the county leaders are proud of the unprecedented FDI success the community has experienced. Over the past 25 years, 15 international companies have invested over $1.7 billion in capital, creating 4,792 jobs in the region. Toyota, Philips, Grammer, Hunter Douglas, and Martinrea are some of these great companies. Since locating there, all have reinvested capital and/or additional jobs in Tupelo-Lee County, further proving the growth potential and confidence in this region’s strong workforce and community support.

These international companies have not only positively impacted the economic climate of the region by bringing in a part of their culture to this community, multi-cultural programs have been implemented in the Tupelo/Lee County schools. Banks and hotels have foreign liaisons, and ethnic grocery stores and restaurants now exist. This community has openly embraced the diverse array of cultures that foreign-owned companies have brought to the region, and looks forward to continuing this success of foreign direct investment in the future.

Other small and medium-size FDI clusters in Mississippi include Canton, DeSoto County, Union County, Grenada, Vicksburg, Itawamba County, Rankin County and Hancock County.


Winston-Salem-Forsyth County, N.C.

Touting a community with a strong legacy in manufacturing and financial services, Winston-Salem, N.C., has been a premier location for foreign direct investment over the past few decades. The fact that these foreign companies have been able to find labor time and time again, and that the labor force performs to the standard that these companies are accustomed is a major selling point for the Winston-Salem and Forsyth County area.

Factors such as the lowest corporate income tax in the country (3 percent) and low utility rates contribute to Winston-Salem’s favorable tax climate and low cost of doing business. Combine these factors with a highly skilled workforce and property costs well below similar cities. . . it is no wonder that FDI is constantly considering this area for new investment. Winston-Salem and Forsyth County currently have over 98 foreign-owned companies operating within the county and employing over 5,500 people. Companies such as Siemens, Atlas Copco, BekaertDeslee, Polyvlies, TE Connectivity, AON Hewitt, Deutsche Bank and others call Forsyth County home. Several other foreign companies are currently considering the area as their choice for new foreign direct investment.

Dhollandia North America plans an investment of approximately $30 million and the creation of 200 jobs in Gaston County, N.C. The firm is constructing a 272,000-square-foot advanced manufacturing operation in Bessemer City, which includes its North American corporate office. Products to be produced include passenger lifts, cantilever lifts, slider lifts and column lifts for the automotive industry. Gaston County, N.C.

Gaston County has emerged as a location of choice for advanced manufacturing facilities. Foreign direct investment has accounted for 20 of the 41 most recent economic development projects of the Gaston County EDC. This includes existing industry expansions and new locations. Over $370 million has been invested, along with the creation of over 1,000 new jobs that have consistently paid more than the county’s average annual wage for that year.

Most of the FDI projects are from Europe, with a few from Asia. Canada, Turkey, Israel, Germany, Belgium, Spain, Italy, Mexico, Australia, Switzerland and Japan are the home countries of these firms. These operations involve plastic, chemical and metalworking firms that are usually family-owned operations. Of the 20 firms, about half have engineering and headquarters operations in addition to the advanced production located at their Gaston County facility. These international firms prove that Gaston County successfully competes for new and expanding global businesses.

Gaston County’s proximity to the Charlotte Douglas International Airport (CDIA) and Interstate 85 are two major factors for FDI. The majority of the county’s business parks and industrial sites are within five miles of Interstate 85 and not more than a 30-minute drive to the CDIA.

Asheville, N.C.

A number of international companies have invested in the Asheville metro area in recent years, helping to grow the area’s population to nearly 500,000 people, and grow the metro area’s GDP to over $20 billion. Auto parts manufacturers Reich (Germany) and Linamar (Canada) employ over 1,000 people in Buncombe County, while med tech company Enplas (Japan) and industrial HVAC manufacturer, Haakon Industries (Canada), add additional diversity to the area’s growing FDI presence. The Asheville area’s growing skilled labor force and unparalleled quality of life amenities are just a sampling of what attracted these thriving companies to the area. 

Morrisville, N.C.

There are over 700 foreign-owned firms operating in the Research Triangle region of North Carolina. In Wake County (the largest county in the Triangle), there is one community leading the way for foreign direct investment success. Morrisville, named one of the most linguistically diverse communities in North Carolina, is a short distance from RDU International airport and home to major foreign-owned firms like Chinese-owned Lenovo, whose North American headquarters have called Morrisville home for decades, Indian-owned Conduent and Japanese-owned Fujifilm, whose recent biopharmaceutical expansion will add 100 new jobs and $90 million of investment into the community.

Other small and medium-size FDI clusters in North Carolina include Statesville, Wilson, Durham, Cabarrus County, Lincoln County, Catawba County, Cleveland County, Alamance County, Cary, Huntersville, Pitt County, Craven County, High Point and Wilmington.


Bartlesville, Okla.

Switzerland-based ABB came to Bartlesville in 1999 to manufacture gas chromatographs and mass spectrometers for the energy sector. The Bartlesville Development Authority assisted with a new facility in the city-owned industrial park and with two subsequent expansions. In October of 2018, ABB announced a consolidation of analytical manufacturing to Bartlesville, and an additional 90 employees. “Bartlesville, Okla., is an excellent location for ABB,” said ABB spokesperson Melissa London. “As a mid-size city within driving distance of larger metropolitan areas, Bartlesville is attractive to both individuals and families, which helps us recruit and retain quality talent.”

Other small and medium-size FDI clusters in Oklahoma include Pryor, Norman, Miami, Muskogee, Stillwater, Ardmore, Shawnee, Lawton-Fort Sill and Ponca City. 


Clarendon County, S.C.

Clarendon County, which is strategically located along Interstate 95, enjoys unparalleled access to this major north/south transportation artery and the port of Charleston. It’s no wonder many foreign-owned companies are having success there. With a 50,000-square-foot spec building and over 2,000 acres of certified industrial property, Clarendon County is sure to be the right fit. Companies such as Amgo Hydraulics (China), Swift Green Filters (Canada) and Alucoil (Spain) have collectively been operational for over 10 years. These companies have one thing in common: they have found a skilled workforce, a pro-business environment and the sense of feeling at home in Clarendon County. “We welcome FDI with open arms and look forward to many more years of future success,” said Clarendon County Development Board Executive Director George Kosinski.

Lexington County, S.C.

Foreign direct investment has long been a powerful contributor to the economic success story that is Lexington County, S.C. More than 7,000 people are employed by 35 foreign-affiliated companies in the central South Carolina county of about 290,000 people, according to county economic development director Mike Eades. That’s about 25 percent of the county’s private sector workforce. “The commitment that enterprises from around the world have made makes a strong statement about Lexington County as a place to do global business,” Eades said.

Those 35 firms include automotive supply, outdoor power products distribution, fiber optics, financial services and food manufacturing among others. One of those firms is Michelin Tire, which first invested in Lexington County in 1980 and has expanded seven times, now employing more than 2,500 people. Diversity is exemplified by Flex, the Singapore-based firm whose contract manufacturing facility employs 350 to 400 people providing “sketch to scale” design, engineering, manufacturing and supply chain logistics across multiple industries for clients around the world.

“Lexington County has all of the key elements to help our organization gain a competitive advantage — from an excellent labor force to a superior transportation network to an exceptional quality of life,” says Flex General Manager Marty Wilson. “This helps set us apart in this ever-changing global marketplace.”

Laurens County, S.C.

Laurens County is well-positioned for economic development in the Southeast. With over 58 percent of the U.S. population, 42 automotive OEMs and 53 aerospace OEMs within a day’s drive, Upstate South Carolina is highly sought after in the Southeast. Laurens County houses prominent manufacturing industries and distribution centers representing eight countries: Germany, United Kingdom, Japan, Italy, Canada, Turkey, Denmark and China. Over the last 25 years, Laurens County has announced over $1.4 billion in foreign direct investment that resulted in 4,200-plus new jobs, through 57 different projects.  Laurens County also had the second highest growth rate in the nation for real GDP growth for all industries between 2012 and 2015 — over 148 percent.

Dorchester County, S.C.

Saying that foreign direct investments significantly impact Dorchester County economic development would be an understatement. From new capital investments to expansions, South Carolina consistently earns the highest percentage of FDI per capita of any state in the nation. Fast Facts: 22 Dorchester County manufacturers are foreign-owned, representing approximately 30 percent of the county’s manufacturers; foreign-owned companies employ 53 percent of Dorchester County’s manufacturing workforce; 60 percent of new prospect visits are by foreign-owned companies. Dorchester County leaders attribute its FDI success to the state’s pro-business environment, active global recruitment strategy, which includes extensive international travel for lead generation, and classic Southern hospitality. 

Newberry County, S.C.

In 1996, Newberry County landed the Korean wire manufacturer Kiswire, which supplies the American tire market, and Trucast, an auto supplier based out of the United Kingdom. Just a few years later in 2001, the world’s second largest heavy equipment manufacturer selected Newberry County for a facility to produce earth moving equipment.

In 2016, the community landed its first BMW supplier, a small German family-owned company named MM Technics. And just a year later, it ended up as the last community standing after a nationwide search by Samsung, which announced its first North American appliance facility in a $350 million, 950-job deal.

“We speak the international language, the language of business,” said Rick Farmer, Director of Newberry County Economic Development. “We are delighted to have such a large foreign footprint.”

The South Carolina Port’s Authority’s newest addition, Inland Port Dillon (IPD), is up and running and it offers all the same services that a typical port offers. IPD helps to better connect NESA domestically and internationally. Northeastern South Carolina

The State of South Carolina and the NESA region are not strangers to FDI. More than 1,200 international firms manage operations in the state, and that number continues to grow. Foreign-affiliated companies employ more than 131,900 South Carolinians, or 7 percent of the state’s private industry employment. The NESA region is home to companies headquartered all around the world including Schaeffler Group, Honda, Nan Ya Plastics, Wellman Plastics Recycling, Highland Industries, Takata, Metglas, Beneteau, DSM, ARAUCO and many, many more.

“We are grateful and honored to have many international companies located here in our region,” NESA Executive Director Jeff McKay said. “They are excellent corporate partners who provide citizens of our region with excellent jobs, benefits and opportunities for the future.”

The NESA region is in the perfect position logistically to assist international companies in getting their products in and out with the newest addition, Inland Port Dillon, which also gives the region direct CSX Class 1 rail access to the deepwater Port of Charleston. Additionally, both are located at the intersection of two major interstates and have the second fastest growing MSA in the country — Myrtle Beach — located in the region.

Other small and medium-size FDI clusters in South Carolina include Berkeley County, Myrtle Beach, Anderson County, Spartanburg County, York County, Florence County, Kershaw County, Richland County, Orangeburg County, Greenwood, Richburg, Lancaster County, Oconee County, Cherokee County, Pickens County, Chester County and Fairfield County.


Knoxville-Oak Ridge, Tenn.

More than 100 internationally-owned companies, ranging from Japanese automotive manufacturers to European healthcare firms, operate across an eight-county region in East Tennessee known as Innovation Valley.

Increasing foreign direct investment is spurred by the region’s unparalleled research and technology institutions, pro-business policy, infrastructure and low cost of living.

“Through the Innovation Valley partnership we are able to offer prospective companies access to a larger workforce pipeline, research and technology assets such as the University of Tennessee and Oak Ridge National Laboratory, as well as support from regional resources like the Tennessee Valley Authority,” said Rhonda Rice Clayton, executive vice president of the Knoxville Chamber and managing director of Innovation Valley. “These assets, located across the region, are what differentiate us in the U.S. and abroad.”

Hebmüller Aerospace is one of Northeast Tennessee’s most recent success stories. The Kaarst, Germany Business Association named the managing directors of the Hebmüller Group, Axel Hebmüller, Guido Otterbein and Mario Theissen, as Businessmen of the Year 2018. Northeast Tennessee

German manufacturers have found success in Northeast Tennessee via a business-incubator-sponsored International Soft Landing Program. The program is a partnership between the East Tennessee State University (ETSU) Innovation Lab and the Northeast Tennessee Valley Regional Industrial Development Association (NETVRIDA). Located in Johnson City, Tenn., the Soft Landing Program provides resources that ensure companies a “soft landing” into the U.S. business world.  The program is designed for small/medium sized firms who can benefit from a trial period evaluating options for the U.S. market.   

Specific assistance is provided in the areas of domestic product research, legal services, market entry and human resources, among many others. In addition, NETVRIDA can offer a free rent period to reduce a company’s initial operating expense. 

The most recent success story from the Soft Landing Program is Hebmüller Aerospace, headquartered in Kaarst, Germany. “Working with the Innovation Lab made our start in the USA very easy with help provided in every step setting up the office. We have benefited from advice from other German companies located in the area and Northeast Tennessee offers outstanding affordability as a business location,” said Axel Hebmüller, CEO.

Other small and medium-size FDI clusters in Tennessee include Jackson, Williamson County, Rutherford County, Wilson County, Maury County, Washington County, Chattanooga, Bradley County, Blount County, Dyersburg, Dickson County, Morristown, Sullivan County, Union County, Montgomery County, Anderson County, McMinn County and Rhea County.


Corpus Christi, Texas

Since 2010, Corpus Christi and the surrounding Coastal Bend region has announced $50 billion in new investment. With access to a deepwater port, a vast network of rail and highway infrastructure, and a large pool of skilled workers, the region has long been an oil and gas refining hub, with longtime Port of Corpus Christi tenants CITGO Refining and Chemicals, Flint Hills Resources, and Valero Energy Corporation as anchor tenants for decades.

With the Eagle Ford and Permian Shale boom supplying feedstock via pipeline to the area, the Corpus Christi region has been ground zero for unprecedented growth. Most notable in the FDI arena: Chinese pipe mill TPCO America, Austrian iron briquette manufacturing facility voestalpine Texas, a consortium of foreign investors’ plastics facility Corpus Christi Polymers, and ExxonMobil and SABIC’s joint venture polymers plant are all in construction in the area.

“Corpus Christi, with its beautiful waterfront lifestyle, is a great place to live, and now these investments are offering new and vibrant career opportunities to our community. We are truly experiencing a transformative manufacturing renaissance in the region,” said Iain Vasey, President and CEO of the Corpus Christi Regional Economic Development Corporation.

Irving-Las Colinas, Texas

Irving-Las Colinas is the third-leading city in Texas for foreign direct investment. A business-friendly city government, DFW International Airport’s service to 62 international locations and being the ninth most diverse U.S. zip code drive FDI by over 150 foreign-owned companies located in this North Texas city. Named the Best Place for Jobs in 2017 and 2018 by Forbes as part of the Dallas-Plano-Irving MSA, Irving-Las Colinas’ FDI is representative of Belgium, Canada, Finland, France, Germany, Korea, Mexico, Switzerland, the UK and, with the largest number of companies (42), Japan. 

Richardson, Texas

Home to 66 foreign-owned companies, it’s understandable that Richardson was named the “International Business Capital of North Texas” by the Texas Legislature. Richardson is a three-time winner of “Top 10 in Small Cities for fDi Strategy,” and its Soft Landing program was named “best of the best” by fDi Magazine for its FDI successes. Last year, Japan-based J-Goodtech SME organization chose Richardson to launch its new, nationwide Bizmatch program to match U.S. companies to Japanese small and medium-sized businesses. Additionally, Richardson works with UT Dallas’ Center for Global Business to support international small and medium enterprises establish offices in Richardson.

Other small and medium-size FDI clusters in Texas include New Braunfels, Longview, Seguin, San Marcos, Bryan, Sugar Land, Mission, McAllen, Paris, Allen, Plano, Grand Prairie, Denton, Midlothian, The Woodlands, Katy, Baytown, Conroe, Victoria and Temple. 


Over the last 25 years, companies from Canada, Germany, Israel, Sweden, the United Kingdom and, most recently, Poland have made the decision to invest in Martinsville-Henry County, Va. Shown here is Poland-based Press Glass.Martinsville-Henry County, Va.

Over the last 25 years, companies from Canada, Germany, Israel, Sweden, the United Kingdom and, most recently, Poland have made the decision to invest in Martinsville-Henry County, Va. With a combined capital investment approaching $200 million and the addition of almost 1,000 new jobs, the Martinsville-Henry County Economic Development Corporation has been extremely active in recruitment of foreign direct investment to southern Virginia.

The latest FDI announcement in Martinsville-Henry County was Press Glass, a Polish flat glass manufacturer that will invest $43.6 million to establish a 280,000-square-foot manufacturing operation and create 212 new jobs. Press Glass’s facility is under construction and represents the first to locate in the Commonwealth Crossing Business Centre, the county’s newest 700-plus-acre advanced manufacturing industrial park.

With its low cost of living, readily available building and site options, and world-class training facilities, Martinsville-Henry County offers plenty of amenities and opportunities for a diverse range of industries. Foreign companies are not only choosing to call Martinsville-Henry County home, but continue to invest and expand in the community, demonstrating the strength of market for FDI in Southern Virginia.

Pulaski County, Va.

Pulaski County is located at the center of the Eastern Seaboard and only hours from major U.S. markets, and is positioned strategically for both domestic and international business operations. The county is already home to nine international companies that span four continents and boast direct employment of over 4,750 and growing.

The advanced manufacturing cluster of diverse foreign investment makes Pulaski County “Southwestern Virginia’s Center for International Business.” The county distinctly hosts an International Port of Entry (POE #1412) and a Foreign Trade Zone (FTZ #238) housed within the New River Valley Regional Airport (Virginia’s seventh longest runway).

The county’s professional and experienced staff understands the acute challenges and boundless opportunities that come along with foreign direct investment, and have created a unique support structure that helps international companies address such comprehensive issues as tax policies, immigration, local/state/federal incentives and programs and import/export polices. Pulaski County is a welcoming community with a tradition of proudly celebrating diversity. In addition, the Economic Development Office enjoys access to a sundry community of expats that come from all over the world. They are ready and waiting to support and help new foreign nationals come to belong and call Pulaski County, Va., their home.

Roanoke, Va.

Foreign direct investment from 19 countries and 32 companies finds the Roanoke Region of Virginia the best place for business. From Australia to Switzerland, these businesses benefit from the right assets for international investment in the urban center of Western Virginia, where there’s a growing international flavor in the transportation sector. “It was Roanoke’s excellent market access, higher education assets, low costs of doing business, and productive workforce that convinced us to establish our first North American production facility in this community,” said Pasquale Forte, president and CEO of Italy’s Eldor Corporation.

Botetourt County, Va.

Australia’s Pratt Industries, the world’s largest privately held, 100 percent recycled paper and packaging company, will make Botetourt County, Va., its newest home with a $20 million investment. Pratt adds to 11 international companies and an already strong packaging sector operating in this picturesque county in the Roanoke metro area.

Strategically located along interstate I-81, Botetourt offers commercial air service, 350,000-plus skilled workers and strong infrastructure. Jeff Bieber of Pratt said, “This is a great area with pro-growth attitudes, a strong workforce and numerous opportunities.”

Loudoun County, Va.

Loudoun County, one of America’s fastest growing communities, is a key player in the global economy. Located 30 minutes outside of Washington D.C., the home of Dulles International Airport has attracted more than $1 billion in foreign investment in the past decade. Tech companies from Asia to Europe benefit from the largest concentration of data centers in the world and a highly skilled workforce. German pharmaceutical company Biogrund picked Loudoun for “its great support, lifestyle and perfect infrastructure.” Rehau executive Christian Fabian called Loudoun “an ideal location for our Americas headquarters and employees.” 

Culpeper, Va.

Culpeper is a hub of commerce and culture nestled between Charlottesville and Washington.  It is a relaxed and elegant location for foreign direct investment. Culpeper is home to Continental Corporation, headquartered in Germany; Euro Composites, headquartered in Luxembourg; SWIFT (Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication), headquartered in Belgium; and TE Connectivity (TEC), headquartered in Switzerland.

These companies have prospered along with the community over the past several decades. SWIFT has been there over 10 years, Euro Composites over 25 years, Continental over 40 years and TEC recently purchased Rochester Wire that has been in Culpeper over 70 years.

Other small and medium-size FDI clusters in Virginia include Danville, Newport News, Wythe County, Montgomery County and Chesapeake. 

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