The Organization for International Investment (pp. 10-14) has identified seven fundamentals of quality aftercare:
1) Streamline communication to address areas of confusion.
Other countries regulate and interact with businesses differently than the United States. Global investors are often unaccustomed to the multiple layers of rules and regulations mandated by federal, state and local levels of American government. This unawareness creates confusion when complying with the law. EDOs are extremely resourceful if they position themselves as “one-stop shops” to address compliance questions that may arise. One idea is to have a single point of contact, or a dedicated team, assigned to a company throughout the lifetime of an investment. Another idea is to host in-person briefings or webinars on policy and regulatory developments and offer tips on how to adopt.
2) Integrate local executives and their families.
Global company executives want to be integrated into their communities. EDOs should invite these executives to community networking opportunities and assist with their placement on a local organization’s board. It is equally important to immerse their families into the community – even more so if they are foreign nationals. Such efforts include special weekend programs focused on cultural integration, or evening classes offering English training and primers on U.S. culture.
3) Create community networks.
Global companies want to build relationships with customers, community leaders, suppliers and policymakers. Relationships with these stakeholders often drive business growth and facilitate business needs. EDOs are helpful by facilitating networking opportunities between these stakeholders. Ideas include scheduling programs to discuss community business issues and organizing a dinner with a company and its stakeholders. Some regions establish international business councils comprised of global company executives and public officials that meet regularly to discuss regional and community issues.
4) Embrace multiculturalism.
Regions that embrace multiculturalism are more hospitable to global companies and their employees. Such efforts include planning programs like “World Trade Days” or cultural festivals or hosting events for businesses to meet local consulates and country-based business organizations. Another idea is to invite foreign ambassadors who represent the countries of major global employers in the community. They can tour the area, meet the companies and interact with public officials.
5) Include global companies in international efforts.
The investment of one company multiplies if its suppliers collocate to the same region. Therefore, including global companies in the planning of foreign trade missions and trade shows is critical. These trips should include visits to these firms’ foreign-based suppliers and parent companies.
6) Align support services to be global.
Investing in a new region is often daunting, especially if language or cultural barriers exist. An EDO that has both English and foreign-language speakers ensures global companies get the support they need. Put multilingual staff in key support areas such as accounting, financial and legal services and ensure the EDO’s website and printed materials are accessible to non-English speaking global audiences. Another example is to create an in-house program, like an international business center, to help newer investors learn of key local services, such as finding office space, talent and capital financing.
7) Prevent discrimination.
Global companies want to invest in markets that treat them as equals to all other investors, regardless of where a corporate headquarters is located. Any discrimination in state or local law or regulation resulting from a company’s foreign heritage diminishes a market’s attractiveness to global investment. For example, global companies want equal opportunity to bid for state and local government contracts and to operate in states that do not undermine the principles of United States tax treaties and other international tax norms. EDOs prove helpful if they ensure their business climates are non-discriminatory, treating domestic and global companies alike.