Global Development

Foreign Direct Investment

Blog Post | Metropolitan Innovations Series

Recognizing the global opportunity in the middle market

May 27, 2015, Ryan Donahue and Brad McDearman

When one thinks of foreign-owned companies operating in the United States, large manufacturing firms such as Honda and BMW come to mind. Yet in the 100 largest metropolitan areas, only 1.3 percent of foreign-owned establishments have more than 500 employees, and three-quarters of large metro areas have fewer than 10 such establishments. Thus, while efforts to attract large foreign firms might capture headlines, strategies to secure and expand foreign investment in the middle market—generally defined as firms with $10 million to $1 billion in revenue and at least 20 employees—represent the sweet spot for metro area foreign direct investment (FDI) efforts.