Develop FDI Outreach and Marketing Plan

Regions interested in being more strategic and proactive begin by developing a plan for FDI outreach and marketing. For more information on defining and leveraging your region’s specific value proposition to attract FDI, go here in the Strategy and Planning section.


Potential Activities

  • Map the ecosystem of partners who can provide resources to leads and prospects
  • Assess the need for additional capacity (e.g., international consulting expertise or foreign representatives or offices), given available resources
  • Review the mix of incentives available to determine how well they respond to the needs of firms in target industries
  • Establish relationship with key partners to support the plan implementation and to inform strategy elements
  • Determine messages and talking points that are most relevant to preferred targets and that reinforce the preferred brand
  • Provide cluster-targeted or country-targeted data about the local economy, the labor force, and investment opportunities


Cincinnati Regional Strategy

Cincinnati embraced a regional approach including jurisdictions in Indiana and Kentucky to develop a strategy seeking to implement a vision that “…FDI is a key ingredient to building a sustainable approach to growing our local economy.” They produced a report providing a road map that includes information on the current FDI activity in the region and statements about the region’s strengths, workforce needs, and opportunities that justify taking this approach.

Great Falls, Montana Development Authority

The EDO in Great Falls, Montana, hired agriculture industry experts to understand their particular industry expertise, which set them apart from the crowd in their marketing and branding efforts. Instead of citing generic expertise in broad industries such as food processing, their industry experts helped them identify, define, and articulate expertise in pulse crop fractionation (milling of beans, chickpeas, lentils, and peas), wheat and barley ingredient processing, and others. This has contributed to the attraction of foreign-owned enterprises such as Nippon Flour Mills and Malteurop North America. (11/27/17 Interview with Brett Doney, President & CEO, Great Falls Montana Development Authority)

Milwaukee 7 Water Technology

Milwaukee 7 linked specific technological innovation in water technology with targeted market opportunities to generate more favorable results than attendance at a more general trade show. The success of this and other trips taken by the Milwaukee 7 delegation was predicated on the development and execution of a targeted, deliberate, and unified messaging campaign.

North Carolina Heat Map

Go Global NC has developed a “heat map” that can help any county in the state gain easy access to economic, demographic, and education data points to determine existing foreign connections. Understanding these existing foreign connections — from Sister City programs to foreign students enrolled in local colleges to current exporters or foreign-owned enterprises — provides valuable insights into relationship building and target market opportunities.

Missouri Access to International Flights

Addressing weaknesses is an important component of developing a plan. “One key challenge for [Missouri] has been access to international flights. No foreign company…wants 3 or more connections prior to arriving at their US facility. With the loss of TWA many years ago, it has been difficult for us to re-engage the airlines to initiate international flights. Just recently, WOW airlines initiated a direct flight from St. Louis to Reykjavik, Iceland and Icelandic Air did similarly from Kansas City. The Reykjavik gateway has now helped us with European and even Middle East investment prospects. The response to these flights has been overwhelming and key foreign investors in the state have told us so.  This international flight buzz has now caught on and more airlines are interested in flying in/out of St. Louis and KC.” Source: Personal communication, July 25, 2018.


SelectUSA has numerous resources on its website that can assist regions in developing FDI outreach and marketing plans.

SelectUSA Stats: SelectUSA has created several data dashboards on their website to help with visualizing and analyzing key FDI data from a variety of sources. Each dashboard features the earliest through the latest available data.

FDI global market: Provides FDI fact sheets that explore the impact of FDI on U.S. jobs, exports, and innovation, organized by foreign market.

Reports and publications: Provides a wide range of reports on FDI trends in various industries and regions.

The Cluster Mapping Project is a national economic initiative that provides over 50 million open data records on industry clusters and regional business environments in the United States to promote economic growth and national competitiveness. The site provides valuable data that regions can use to understand the regional economy and formulate strategies for outreach and marketing to potential foreign investors. The project is led by Harvard Business School’s Institute for Strategy and Competitiveness in partnership with the U.S. Department of Commerce and U.S. Economic Development Administration.

American Electric Power prepared “Seven Critical Steps to Selecting an Ideal Location in the U.S.” to help guide potential investment in the U.S.  Understanding how companies approach location selection in the U.S. and what they look for as they decide where to invest provides useful insights for regions in formulating plans for outreach and marketing.

Ontario East Economic Development region prepared a comprehensive strategic plan update for FDI attraction that identifies key industries and geographic targets based on data analysis, benchmarking, and understanding of regional strengths and weaknesses.

Additional plans are referenced in the toolkit section on Strategy and Planning.