It seems international businesses are booming in the U.S. New York City opened its doors in beta version in Brooklyn. New York City is the newest addition to international-focused accelerator programs and co-working places and an example of significant foreign direct investment (FDI) into New York City. A few months ago, the Partnership for New York City (PFNYC) released a study about the importance of foreign direct investments in the city. The Mayor’s Office for International Affairs is currently conducting a survey among European firms on New York City as a business location. In their annual business outlook survey, the American German Chamber of Commerce found that 100 percent of respondents intended to increase their investments in the U.S. – which is the highest number since the Chamber started the survey four years ago.
The question is: Will these international investments come to New York City, or go somewhere else in the U.S.? Here are five recommendations for the Mayor’s FDI strategy to capture some of the investment inflow.
Stop the “Level playing field” thinking
Unlike many other cities, New York City never had an FDI strategy. The two city agencies in charge of international business, the NYCEDC and the Mayor’s Office for International Affairs, never made any serious attempt, nor were they equipped to push for more international businesses finding a home in the city. The reason for this was often the “level playing field” approach, which basically means that every company – foreign, national, or local – is treated the same, and there is no public assistance when locating a business in NYC. This approach resulted in a lack of actions and resources to even explain New York City as a business location.
“The Bronx is Burning” – long gone image (for us)
Granted the 1970’s image of New York City on fire is long gone–especially among the business community with many executives visiting a few times per year for their rounds on Wall Street. However, in our talks, we find that a surprisingly large number are not aware that New York City is the center of “Hyphen-Tech.” The inside-view among the city’s tech ecosystem and the outside-view is still very different. It is time to close that gap.
Partnership models – a way for the future
City agencies are increasingly entering collaboration agreements on innovation with other countries and cities: France, Berlin, Italy, or Montreal, to name a few. The efforts should continue and be supported by resources to build platforms for private sector collaboration. Public-private partnership models (PPP), where both sectors join forces to promote the city’s business profile, are one way of achieving this. PPP-trade promotion agencies like London Partner or Berlin Partner have shown significant returns on their investments. Disclaimer: NYI has worked with Berlin and London in the past.
As a “brand city,” New York is in a unique position. The city does not need to spend marketing dollars to put itself on the map for the business community. But times are changing, and New York City is resting on its reputation, as quoted in the PFNYC study by a partner of a U.S. law firm. That is not enough. The city can leverage its exciting international activities and encourage a new kind of partnership by taking bilateral agreements to the next level and initiating an international house dedicated to innovation, business, and learning – Yes, plugging many gaps at once, including a school providing affordable, quality education.
Low-hanging fruit for the Mayor
Such an international agenda for Mayor De Blasio is full of opportunities to advance the city. And together with Deputy Mayor Alicia Glenn there is a team in place that can implement it. Sometimes it just takes the boss to demonstrate priorities and commitment. A commitment from the Mayor to international businesses seems like low-hanging fruit. And maybe some other concrete ideas back from 2014 can be considered – the time is now to leverage the opportunity.
Compliments of the City of New York