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Advanced Course: Foreign Direct Investment & Exporting

Date: August 17 - 18, 2017

Location: Atlanta, GA

This class is conducted in partnership with Georgia Institute of Technology; for information on fees and to register online for this class - visit the Georgia Tech website.

Please note: This course, called advanced because of the specialized nature of the content, is open to all interested participants. Those individuals looking to take courses in preparation for the Certified Economic Developer exam should look to our core and elective courses, as the Foreign Direct Investment and Exporting course does not fulfill the professional development requirements. Current CEcDs can take this course for recertification points.

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This advanced course teaches the core components to bring the world economy to your community’s front door. Foreign direct investment (FDI) and exporting are now essential components of a local economic development strategy. Attendees will learn how to attract foreign investors, from identifying targeted sectors to engaging new businesses. They will also explore how to facilitate exports in their community, with an emphasis on how existing federal and state programs can assist. The course will cover all aspects of doing business with foreign entities, from cultural differences to tax and financing issues.


Course Highlights:

• Understanding how the federal government specifically supports EDOs in pursuit of FDI and in growing exports, especially among small to medium sized businesses.
• In-depth coverage of how to make the most of trade shows and trade missions, including working with elected officials and dealing with the press.
• Explanation of why an investor would be interested in setting up operations in the United States, and the means by which they may undertake investment from mergers and acquisitions to new greenfield development.
• Private and public financing programs that ensure exporters of any size have access to capital and insurance
• How foreign business climates differ from that of the United States, and how to navigate in new markets, as well as welcome different cultures into your community.
• Review of trade policy including what steps can be taken if a company encounters trade barriers, such as tariffs or unnecessary regulation.



August 17

8:30 - 9:00 am


9:00 - 9:15 am


9:15 - 10:00 am

Introduction to Foreign Direct Investment
In 2014, foreign investors controlled more than $1.5 trillion worth of U.S.-based businesses. Foreign direct investment (FDI) generates not just jobs and taxes for a community; it also provides “spillover effects” in the form of innovation and international exposure. First, this session will provide an overview of why economic developers should pursue FDI, followed by a discussion of the role of government, nonprofits and private industry.

10:00 - 11:00 am

The Investor’s Perspective
This section investigates the types of investors in the United States, including where investment is occurring and how the U.S. measures up against other countries regarding FDI. It also considers ways to engage with different kinds of investment models—subsidiaries, joint ventures, and branches, as well as different types of visas that investors may be interested in.

11:15 am - 12:15 pm

Attracting Foreign Investors
As communities actively work to attract foreign direct investment, the competition for the attention of foreign investors is getting more intense. As a result, practitioners must develop well thought-out strategies for attracting foreign capital that target investment in industries most aligned with the community’s clusters. Practitioners must also actively build relationships to build a standout reputation for their community and keep their areas fresh in the investor’s mind. This session outlines how to develop effective attraction strategies and what economic developers can expect from trade missions and trade shows.

12:15 - 1:15 pm

Lunch on your own

1:15 - 3:00 pm

Navigating New Markets

Working with international partners presents unfamiliarity to both economic developers and investors. From dealing with cultural nuances to helping new investors adjust to new environments, this session will delve into the challenges practitioners faces when doing business across country lines. Topics in this session include doing due diligence, smoothing cultural misunderstandings, and navigating negotiations with foreign investors. This session will also consider the challenges that investors face, such as a lack of knowledge of incentive programs.

3:15 - 4:45 pm

Federal Resources for FDI
The federal government has several resources available to help communities promote FDI. Many of these resources address federal “red tape” issues that may be hampering the flow of investment into communities. This session will provide attendees with an understanding of major federal programs that facilitate FDI.


August 18

9:00 - 10:00 am

The Rationale for Promoting Exports
Exporting is an essential economic driver. Industries that export goods and services generate local wealth and jobs that stay within communities. Business sectors that export benefit from increased competition which leads to the development of better products through technical innovation and give their host community a more stable and resilient economic base. Economic developers should know the challenges that businesses face in setting up their export activities, as well as the global trends that are likely to drive further increases in trade.

10:15 - 11:15 am

The Economic Developer’s Role in Exporting
Economic developers contribute to building an exporting economy by giving existing businesses the tools and needed resources to export. This session will cover the various types of technical assistance EDOs provide to companies interested in exporting and businesses currently exporting. This session will present examples of business services offered by EDOs that help businesses overcome barriers to start exporting and others that support existing exporters that wish to expand into new markets. Attendees will also learn about the state governments’ role and resources as well as gain understanding of regional programs that facilitate exporting.

11:15 am - 12:15 pm

Federal Resources: Advocacy and Representation
The federal government essentially has two roles when it comes to helping American firms export; developing international trade policy and undertaking export promotion activities. The policy aspect of the federal government’s role is centered on eliminating trade barriers, bureaucratic problems and unfair trading practices abroad, in order to make American products more competitive. The federal government’s export promotion activities include export assistance services, export promotion and market development, financing and insurance, and advocacy. This session will provide further detail on both roles.

12:15 - 1:30 pm

Lunch on your own

1:30 - 2:45 pm

Expanding your Exporting Sales & Risk Management
Savvy economic developers should be aware of the challenges that businesses may face in exporting, and the tools that are available to mitigate risk. This session will introduce the key types of insurance and financing programs that companies new to exporting should have access to.

3:00 - 4:15 pm

Federal Resources for Exporting Finance
This session will provide attendees with an understanding of the functions of the federal programs that facilitate exporting, such as the many programs facilitated by the Small Business Administration, OPIC, and the Department of Agriculture. Our instructor will provide useful tips for EDOs to get the most out of these resources.

4:15 - 4:30 pm

Conclusions, Wrap-up and Certificates


* Agenda subject to change

**PLEASE NOTE: In order to receive full IEDC certification credit for this course and a certificate indicating course completion, participants must attend the entire course and stay through the final session on the last day. Please make travel plans accordingly.**



Rodrick T. Miller
President and CEO
Ascendant Global Consulting

Rodrick Miller has emerged as one of the foremost economic development leaders in the country, respected globally for his ability to maneuver in extraordinarily complex political and business environments, and craft strategies and structure deals to provide long-term value to communities and investors. His skills as a salesman, negotiator, policy expert, and corporate strategist have been honed in over 10 countries.

Miller is the President & CEO of Ascendant Global, a boutique economic development firm established in early 2017. Ascendant focuses on providing bold growth solutions to help economies sustain themselves and gain jobs and private investment.

Previously Miller was President and CEO of the Detroit Economic Growth Corporation (DEGC), the public-private partnership charged with leading the economic revitalization of the city of Detroit. The organization’s signature small business program, Motor City Match, aimed at developing and leveraging small businesses to anchor neighborhoods is quickly becoming a national model. Meanwhile, Miller pushed a pointed real estate development agenda which is creating the infrastructure to support significant expansion of large scale manufacturing and logistics operations. Under Miller’s leadership, the DEGC has brought more than $750M in new investments and 6,000 new jobs to Detroit. In 2014, Miller supported the city’s exit from bankruptcy through negotiating disposition of key public assets to ease large creditor tensions and jumpstart new development opportunities. His team also brokered the transaction to bring the Detroit Pistons back to downtown Detroit.

Prior to joining the DEGC, Miller served as the founding president and CEO of the New Orleans Business Alliance (NOLABA), the official economic development organization responsible for ensuring the long-term economic vitality and driving job growth for the City of New Orleans.

Miller holds a Master of Public Policy from Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government and a Bachelor of Science degree in international business from St. Augustine’s College. He also gained a Graduate Diploma in Finance from the Monterrey Institute of Technology (ITESM) in Mexico while completing a Fulbright Fellowship. A scholar practitioner, he is a sought after lecturer and contributes to various publications. He is a term member of US Council on Foreign Relations, is a board member of the International Economic Development Council, and sits on the Federal Reserve Board’s Community Advisory Council. Miller has received numerous accolades including Ebony Magazine’s 30 under 30, Phoenix Business Journal’s Top 40 under Forty, Top 100 Tech Influencers in the Silicon Bayou, Young Economic Developer of the Year, and numerous others.

Steven W. Weathers, CEcD
President and CEO
Erie County Industrial Development Agency

Steve Weathers was named President and CEO of the Erie County Industrial Development Agency in 2013. Prior to his role at the Erie County IDA, Steve was President and CEO of the World Trade Center San Diego. He also served as the President and CEO of the Savannah Economic Development Authority, where he led the effort to launch the World Trade Center Savannah as part of fully integrated international economic development strategy. Steve has also served as CEO and President of the Regional Growth Partnership (RGP) where he led Rocket Ventures as its President & Managing Director. During his time at RGP in Toledo, Ohio, the organization assumed a leadership role that led to the creation of more than 7,200 new high-paying, high-skilled jobs in the region. Steve led the effort to create Rocket Ventures (RV), the region’s first ever pre-seed venture capital fund. Rocket Ventures grew to become a $22.5 million early-state investment fund comprised of $7.5 million of private investment capital, as well as a $15 million grant from the State of Ohio. Rocket Ventures created more than 70+ new technology companies in a three-year period.

Steve has been in economic development for more than 20 years, with 11 of those years in San Diego, California as Vice President of the San Diego Regional Economic Development Corporation. Through the years, Steve has been involved in the attraction retention, growth and start-up of more than 500 companies. Some of his most significant and notable successes during his economic development career have been the attraction of the Novartis Genomic Research Center, Gateway Computers headquarters, the LEGO Theme Park and the SPAWAR Defense headquarters to the San Diego region, as well as the attraction of the GEICO, Citigroup and Intuit Software national service centers to the Tucson region.

Currently, Steve serves on the board of the International Economic Development Council, State of New York Economic Development Council, Red Cross of Western New York, The Beverly Gray Entrepreneurial Center (a women and minority business incubator).


Accommodations/Training Location

Georgia Tech Global Learning Center
Technology Square
84 Fifth Street
Atlanta, GA 30308
Phone: (404) 385-3500

Please see www.pe.gatech.edu/area-hotels for suggested accommodations.