Regions may find it helpful to develop their strategies around multiple jurisdictions, not one county or narrowly defined area. By banding together — often including nearby major metro areas — jurisdictions can combine resources to build the scale necessary to engage in effective international engagement, including FDI marketing and outreach, international brand awareness, and cost-effective (collaborative) export activities. (p.38, IERC report)
See the video below about how Chester County, South Carolina, attracted a foreign tire manufacturer, in part, by leveraging its proximity to Charlotte, North Carolina.
Building an international engagement strategy around larger geographic areas has multiple advantages.
National League of Cities Report: “… name recognition matters. In many cases, investors may know of a region, but not the individual cities within the region.Therefore, marketing your community alone may be to your detriment.” (p.12)
Global Tampa Bay, a regional collaboration for Pasco, Pinellas, and Hillsborough counties:
- “Combining our efforts into the Global Tampa Bay brand allows us to market ourselves to a broader audience. We have much better name recognition as a region than we do as individual counties.” – Brent Barkway, Business Development Manager,Pinellas County Economic Development
- “Marketing internationally is difficult. You shouldn’t do it from the county level. Without the state or region, you have no credibility…” – Bill Cronin, President/CEO, Pasco Economic Development Council
Investment Consulting Associates (global management consultants): “Caution I give regions within U.S. and Canada: promote at a level where the region is going to be recognizable. Tucson does not have recognizable concept, nor does Huntsville… but Alabama, where BMW or Mercedes is located, is recognizable, or Arizona – more people will recognize it …You must get to the regional level where you have a meaningful brand… Otherwise you’re just creating noise with other regional partners.” – Chris Steele, COO & President North America
Corporation for Economic Development (Madison County, Indiana): “This country is big and diverse. Outside of the major metros, can anybody [outside the country] say where those places are? Like Topeka, Kansas – how do [foreign prospects] find it?” – Rob Sparks, Executive Director
Milwaukee 7, regional organization representing 7 counties in southeast Wisconsin: “M7 gives us a larger radius for site selectors who look at the state and then a region..” – Jenny Trick, Executive Director Racine County Economic Development Corporation
National League of Cities Report: “… local success in the global economy requires leveraging, strengthening, and marketing the breadth of resources available in the region. It is unlikely that one community has the full capacity to provide all the resources needed to support business and economic activity.” (p. 11)
Global Tampa Bay, regional collaboration for Pasco, Pinellas, and Hillsborough counties: “Clusters are regional. And regions share a workforce. It’s the same pool of people. Same pool of assets. We might as well pool together. Think about it: when a county promotes themselves they talk about clusters or ports or rail or whatever, those aren’t confined to their county – they’re regional assets. 90% of every pitch is about regional assets – like drive time or workforce. There isn’t much differentiation. All the data that they share with investors is all regional data.” – Bill Cronin, President/CEO, Pasco Economic Development Council
Milwaukee 7, regional organization representing 7 counties in southeast Wisconsin: “No county is an island. We don’t have all of the answers. Supplier networks, customer relationships…a regional entity can introduce (foreign firms) to all the peer communities that might be involved.” – Jenny Trick, Executive Director, Racine County Economic Development Corporation
Investment Consulting Associates (global management consultants): “If you don’t have a regional [collaboration], that means components of the region start competing with each other. And if I select one region, I will have one happy region and 7 pissed off regions. However, I am bringing benefit to the whole region and I need support of the whole region.” – Chris Steele, COO & President North America
Global Tampa Bay, regional collaboration for Pasco, Pinellas, and Hillsborough counties: “Individually we would be very limited. If we did everything separately, our individual activities would be duplicative. It’s much better to join forces …” – Bill Cronin, President/CEO, Pasco Economic Development Council
Milwaukee 7, regional organization representing 7 counties in southeast Wisconsin: “Without M7, it would fragment the regions’ abilities to market themselves in a comprehensive way. The larger the body, the greater the weight and concentration.” – Jenny Trick, Executive Director, Racine County Economic Development Corporation
Export Alabama Alliance, collaboration for the state of Alabama: “Ours is a prime example [of the value of collaboration] … It’s partly due to our size. [Individually] we don’t have the financial resources to do this on our own. We don’t want to be redundant. We need to work together to be the most successful…The support of the Alliance makes it possible for me to do my job. For example, I don’t do market research. The Alabama ITC does that. That’s what they do. There are certain pieces [that the Chamber offers] that couldn’t survive without the Alliance.” – Christina Stimpson, Director of International Trade, Mobile Area Chamber of Commerce.
See examples of regional collaboration models for more on the types of organizations and structures that have been successful, advice by practitioners on what works, and inspiration.