New York is the overall winner in this year’s American Cities of the Future FDI Strategy category. The city’s investment promotion body, New York City Economic Development Corporation (NYCEDC), employs a team of 525 staff and works tirelessly to promote entrepreneurship and economic diversification across the city.
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Editor's note: The previous version of these rankings erroneously listed Vancouver as number one for Economic Potential. It should be Seattle in first, with Vancouver ranked third. We regret the error.
The organisation established the partnership team, a new department to target FDI, in late 2017. Among its many responsibilities, the team conducts outreach in growth cities, develops strategic financing and facilitates international participation in NYCEDC’s numerous industry initiatives. These include LifeSciNYC, a 10-year, $500m initiative to bring New York to the forefront of the global life sciences industry; and CyberNYC, a $100m scheme to grow the local cybersecurity sector.
The city enjoys growth across several sectors including technology, life sciences, financial services and industrial manufacturing. New York’s blockchain ecosystem, for example, is experiencing explosive growth. In the past year alone, New York-based blockchain start-ups received more than $500m in venture capital funding, up 500% from 2017. The city continues to bolster development in the sector through the recently opened NYC Blockchain Centre, the annual Blockchain Week around the Consensus event, and the NYC BigApps Blockchain Challenge.
Chicago’s economic development organisation, World Business Chicago (WBC), has enjoyed greatly increased funding since 2012 in order to pursue domestic and foreign inward investment and inclusive growth. WBC consistently implements new initiatives to attract more investment from various world regions. In July 2018, Chicago mayor Rahm Emanuel signed the first economic memorandum of understanding between a US city and the Japanese government, which bolstered bilateral ties with the country and coincided with inward investments from several Japanese companies, including construction equipment maker Komatsu and aluminium manufacturer UACJ.
WBC also works to drive growth and opportunity in Chicago’s tech community through the ChicagoNext initiative. Its council of technology leaders aims to promote digital, clean technology and life sciences with a focus on attracting venture capital, tech talent and encouraging inclusive entrepreneurship. The city also hosts the Chicago Venture Summit and its prominent tech hub 1871 was named top university-affiliated incubator in the world by UBI Global in 2018.
Montréal, third in this year’s ranking, is experiencing a surge in inward FDI. Economic development agency Montréal International (MI) supported 63 foreign companies in setting up or expanding in the region in 2018, attracting $2.47bn in investment, a 22% increase on 2017 and a 147% increase on 2015.
MI’s FDI strategy targets diverse sectors and geographies and its team focuses on obtaining face-to-face meetings with investors as well as reaching out at major trade shows and government missions. Government incentives are available to inward investors in the form of tax credits and direct financial support. MI also offers comprehensive aftercare support to ensure investors remain and grow in the area: 50% of its FDI investments in 2018 were expansions of foreign subsidiaries.
Medellín ranks fourth for FDI Strategy in the list. The Agency for Cooperation and Investment of Medellín (ACI Medellín) promotes and facilitates the attraction of FDI to the city and its metropolitan area, working closely with the different chambers of commerce and the government agency ProColombia.
Investors in the creative industries, as well as infrastructure, construction, tourism, textiles, health services and Industry 4.0, can enjoy industry, commerce and property tax incentives. Moreover, in the city’s free-trade zones, companies benefit from a 20% discount on income tax and no customs taxes. Medellín is also committed to the development of film production in the locality and is Colombia's only city to have a film commission, offering 15% additional incentives to those offered by the national government.
The Mobile Area Chamber is the lead economic developer for the city of Mobile and Mobile County in Alabama, and it comes fifth in the FDI Strategy category. It is home to several high-growth sectors including a thriving aerospace cluster, and Mobile Area Chamber attends a variety of global air shows to promote the region alongside Team Mobile, a group of local economic development partners.
Mobile is also known for its extensive transportation infrastructure, including a deep-water port, two major interstate connectors, five class-one railroads and two Federal Aviation Administration-certified airports. Following a collaborative, city-wide effort, Mobile won a $14m grant from the US Department of Transportation in mid-2016. The funding will be used to renovate infrastructure, connect citizens to jobs and revitalise historic neighbourhoods.