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FDI planning guide: A blueprint for metro teams pursuing global economic engagement

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Leaders in states, cities, and metropolitan areas across the country are exploring ways to help their firms and regional economies become more competitive through increased and more intentional global engagement. In 2011, the Brookings Institution Metropolitan Policy Program tapped into this rising demand through a collaborative pilot project with four U.S. metro areas—Los Angeles; Minneapolis-St. Paul; Portland, Ore.; and Syracuse, N.Y.—to develop metropolitan export plans.

The success of the pilot, along with heightened interest in global engagement, resulted in creation of the Exchange, a peer-learning network of metro areas that are developing and implementing global trade and investment plans incorporating both exports and foreign direct investment (FDI). The Exchange is part of the Global Cities Initiative (GCI), a joint project of Brookings and JP Morgan Chase, which helps leaders in U.S. metro areas reorient their economies toward greater engagement in world markets. The Exchange now includes 28 metro areas, with each producing an export plan in the first year and a companion FDI plan (or a combined global trade and investment plan to include both exports and FDI) in a later year.

To capture and more broadly share learning from the export-planning experience, in August 2012 Brookings released Ten Steps to Delivering a Successful Metro Export Plan. This “10 Steps Guide” serves as a how-to tool for private, nonprofit, and government leaders who are interested in developing effective, action-oriented export plans and initiatives customized to their region’s unique assets and capacities.

This document—the “FDI Planning Guide”—serves as a companion piece to the 10 Steps Guide and is designed to support practitioners managing the everyday planning process. It is based primarily on experience gained from working with six Exchange metro areas (Columbus, Ohio; Minneapolis-St. Paul; Portland; San Antonio; San Diego; and Seattle) in the FDI pilot that was completed in March 2015. Learning from the pilot was verified and supplemented through experience gained through the second FDI cohort of metro areas (Atlanta; Des Moines, Iowa; Greenville-Spartanburg, S.C.; Los Angeles; Milwaukee; and Syracuse) that was completed in April 2016.

The basics for both export and FDI planning phases are fundamentally the same, so the original 10 Steps Guide continues to serve as a relevant tool throughout the export and FDI planning processes. However, there are some key differences and areas of emphasis related to the FDI planning phase that are worth emphasizing.

This FDI Planning Guide is divided into three sections: (1) set up: the organization and commitment of resources, (2) planning, and (3) implementation.

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