The Indy region recently received a rare opportunity.
Through the U.S. Department of State’s Experience America program, a delegation of more than 30 foreign ambassadors visited partners in central Indiana and met with the Indy Chamber and local business leaders to gain a deeper understanding of our business climate. These ambassadors represented more than half a billion people globally while serving here in the U.S. The overall program and the visit promoted economic partnerships and international trade.
Why is it so important to build these international bridges for business? After all, international trade seems uncertain these days, and our economy is strong.
Simply put, global trade drives our region’s growth and underpins our economy.
Exports pulled the U.S. economy out of recession, with one-third of U.S. economic growth coming from American goods and services sold abroad from 2009 to 2015. Indiana was the 12th largest state exporter of goods by 2016—and the Indianapolis region provides more than 30 percent of the state’s total exports.
Foreign direct investment, or FDI, is just as vital. More than 285 foreign-based companies operate in the Indy region, employing Hoosiers and helping to diversify our economy. The share of Indianapolis metro FDI employment in advanced industries, at 35 percent, is much higher than the U.S. share of 24 percent.
Globally engaged firms are highly concentrated in advanced industry sectors; tend to invest more in capital, technology, research and development; and pay higher wages driven by skill demands and value creation. Therefore, increasing international trade and foreign direct investment in our region improves and protects our economy, especially during domestic economic downturns.
The time to develop international relationships and think about going global is when the economy is strong. This work takes time, and our region has plenty of room to grow. Roughly 80 percent of the world’s purchasing power is outside of the U.S., but just 10 percent of companies in the metro area are currently exporting.
The Indy Partnership, a business unit of the Indy Chamber, has ongoing initiatives to convene supporters of international business, increase exports and foreign direct investment, and tell our region’s global story. When we engage with international partners like those through Experience America, we connect Indy with the rest of the world.
We welcome all opportunities to spotlight the Indianapolis business community, and we encourage all businesses to join us in our ongoing Global Indy efforts. We need to think and act globally to grow locally.•
Krauss is chief economic development officer for the Indy Chamber.