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Navigating the FDI Process

Foreign firms seeking a U.S. location for a new or expanded facility may need assistance in navigating the federal, state, and local environments in which they will operate.

Q4 2023
The U.S. economy employs eight million Americans from foreign companies, and 75 percent of the $5.25 trillion in cumulative FDI in the United States comes from companies with global headquarters in Japan, Germany, Canada, the United Kingdom, Ireland, France, the Netherlands, and Switzerland.

FDI is a major stimulus to our economy. But with that said, international companies looking to expand or relocate typically lack the time and/or the resources to do due diligence, so businesses look to site selection consultants as well as law firms such as Adams and Reese to help them connect the dots in the states in finance, investment, economic development, and public policy.

Here are some of the issues that international firms investing in the U.S. must consider:

Access to incentive opportunities: Foreign firms often need help navigating the vast array of economic development incentives, property tax incentives, job development credits, revenue credits, abandoned building and historic preservation tax credits, and state and local grants — all of which vary by city and state of desired location.

Foreign firms often need help navigating the vast array of incentives and tax credits. Understanding of relocation requirements: Knowledge of the varying regulatory environments for a desired location is essential. The firm must work with federal, state, and local governments on required tax filings, environmental regulations, business registration documents, proper permitting, state and federal law compliance, among other important issues and acquire knowledge of legislative, regulatory, and state procurement processes.

Site selection partners: By partnering with the investing firm, local economic development professionals, and government agencies, site consultants and attorneys can help the firm to negotiate benefits and incentives for competitive local business climates, healthy tax bases, and high-quality infrastructure.

Public finance assistance: The location decision often involves an investigation of tax or revenue-secured municipal bonds as well as corporate securities, cash flow, and restructuring of existing debt.

Negotiation, litigation, and ADR: If a project stalls, the firm would be wise to seek counsel for conflict resolution arising from questions of legality in public/private partnerships and development proposals and litigation for breach of contract or other underperformance claims.

Access to capital and new markets: The company investing in the U.S. can increase its access to capital and new markets, growing its customer base, and further accessing resources that may not be available in its home country. These new resources could possibly reduce operational costs by taking advantage of lower labor costs, reduced shipping costs, or more affordable taxes.

Enhanced technology: The foreign firm investing in the United States can improve its technology by relocating to a state and/or city with the latest technological innovations beneficial to improving operations and efficiency, as well as delivery of their products and services.

The company investing in the U.S. can increase its access to capital and new markets, growing its customer base. Risk diversification: By expanding into new markets, the firm can diversify its risk, protecting it from economic downturns or other impactful events.

A wide range of regulatory and business issues converge in the multi-layered matrix in which businesses operate in today’s global economy. Virtually any move a company, trade association, public entity, or other organization makes occurs at the intersection of business and government.

Adams and Reese, founded in 1951, is a multidisciplinary law firm with more than 300 attorneys and advisors strategically located throughout the United States and Washington, D.C.

Ed McMullen has worked with clients in public policy, politics, and business nationally and internationally for more than 30 years. From the firm’s Charleston, S.C., and Washington, D.C., offices, Ed provides economic development and foreign direct investment (FDI) guidance to a broad range of clients. Ed has an extensive background in public affairs and PR in issues related to energy, healthcare, and government relations. Ed works closely with a team of government relations professionals and lawyers to help clients with investment and economic development opportunities, state incentives, state environmental regulations, and the range of services relating to FDI.
Ed served as ambassador of the United States to Switzerland and Liechtenstein from November 2017–January 2021. He has been recognized for developing the strongest bilateral relationship with U.S./Swiss relations in history. During his service as ambassador, Ed focused on FDI and met more than 300 CEOs and chairs of boards of directors throughout Switzerland and Liechtenstein, building relationships and a favorable environment for economic growth. Thanks to Ed’s leadership in this initiative, Switzerland moved from the eighth-largest to the sixth-largest foreign direct investor in the United States. He is a frequent guest of the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland.
As a result of this success, businesses regularly seek Ed’s advice and counsel in exploring avenues of growth in the U.S. Clients appreciate Ed’s in-depth experience in helping them connect with FDI opportunities. Following the completion of his public service, Ed is now engaged in private equity as a partner in a London firm, serves on the board of a Paris-based communications firm, and serves on the North American boards of several Swiss companies while continuing to build his relationships among investors and corporate leadership in Switzerland, Liechtenstein, and throughout Europe.
David King is a member of the Intersection of Business and Government Practice Group in Adams and Reese LLP, Columbia and Charleston, S.C. offices. He’s an accomplished professional economic developer with over three decades of experience, bringing a deep knowledge of global economic development experience to advise clients on corporate site selection and government relations matters. Before joining Adams and Reese LLP, he was a founding member of the first full-service regional economic development organization in the state of South Carolina. Throughout his career, including his role as vice president of Global Business Recruitment, he was part of a team of economic developers that assisted with successfully winning projects that announced capital investments of $20 billion and the creation of 80,000 new jobs through relationships with corporate site selectors, C-Suite executives, and local, state, national, and international allies. His career and background include a wide array of experiences and knowledge that include the design and successful implementation of 100+ multi-dimensional investment recruiting missions, project management, research, marketing and brand strategy, investor funding, governmental affairs, and strategic engagement with public and private sector stakeholders. Recently, King was appointed by the American Chamber of Commerce in Italy as USA-SC Representative. Burnie Maybank is a member of the Intersection of Business and Government Practice in the firm’s Columbia and Charleston, S.C., offices. He represents public/private businesses, commercial real estate developers, government, and nonprofits in state and local tax (SALT), state and local tax controversy issues, and economic development incentives, including opportunity zone matters, as well as abandoned building and historic preservation tax credits.
He has additional experience in exempt organizations and charitable giving, conservation easements, alcohol beverage control, and regulatory work before the Public Service Commission. State and local tax controversy work is a large area of Burnie’s practice. He represents taxpayers in numerous Administrative Law Court, Court of Appeals, and South Carolina Supreme Court cases, as well as writing amicus briefs for various local and state tax councils, business chambers, and manufacturing alliances.
Burnie has co-authored many of the state economic development incentives and released South Carolina Department of Revenue policy documents on the incentives when he served two terms as Department of Revenue Director under former governors Mark Sanford (2003-2005) and David Beasley (1995-1999). He also served two terms as Chair of the Job Development Credit Act Subcommittee of the South Carolina Coordinating Council for Economic Development.

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