Investing in Rural America

>>My name is Heather Rank. [assumed spelling] I’m the team
leader for the US Department of Commerce’s International
Trade Administration’s Rural Team. [laughter] That’s a mouthful. We’re here to talk today about
investing in rural America. Rural America has
a lot to offer. It’s different than rural
parts of other countries, and a lot of really
unique factors. So we have a distinguished
panel today to share their experiences. And I will be moderating
the panels. So we’ll be doing
self-introductions in a little bit. So why don’t we do
that in a moment. Just as a quick introduction, we
have additional resources here at the Summit on rural
exporting or things that pertain to where you choose your
investment destination. We have a rural booth over
in the US government section. There’s also some select
USA stats, some other booths and state booths and economic
development organizations, where you can get a lot of
on the ground information from different parts
of the United States, including rural areas. And we also have some
materials on the table, outside the room — afterward,
if you would like to — including a report on
the characteristics of farm direct investment in
rural America that was done by the Select USA
team last year. So we printed out
some of those reports and it is also available
in a pdf format. So there’s a few of those
on the table outside. And so our — and we will
also take question and answer at the end of this panel. So if you have any
questions you’re thinking of, maybe hold those to the end
and we would very much love to have your questions
toward the end of the panel. What we hope that you take away from this panel is how rural
America may have attributes that you hadn’t thought of to be
a valid investment destination and to give you some actual
tools to connect with people who can actually help you
in rural parts of the US. So why don’t we move into
introductions [agreeing noise] and go right on down the line.>>Sure. Good morning. Thanks for being here. My name is Alyssa Levon. [phonetic] I’m actually
based here in Washington DC, where I’m the Director of
Federal Government Affairs for a company called Avangrid. Avangrid is essentially
a large, fairly young, electricity company,
leading the transition to a clean energy future. If you kind of think
of us in the form of two different businesses, we
are a pipes and wires entity — mainly from about New York
up to — up through Maine. We operate under
a bunch of names. And our renewables business
— the other component — is mostly wind, some
solar, across the country. This is utility scale. We’ve got about 6,700 megawatts
of — again, mostly wind. We’re the third largest
generator of renewable energy
in the country. We’ve also engaged in a large
way in bringing off-shore wind to the United States, mostly
through our partnership with Copenhagen Infrastructure
Partners, to form Vineyard Wind. It will be the first
large-scale, offshore wind project
in the United States — about 14 miles south
of Martha’s Vineyard. In all Avangrid is a subsidiary,
if you will, of Iberdrola. Iberdrola’s a Spanish entity. While Avangrid is traded on
the New York Stock Exchange, Iberdrola is our 81 and a
half percent shareholder. So happy to be here. Thank you.>>Thank you.>>Good morning. I’m Heidi Smith. [assumed spelling] And I’m with
the Tennessee Valley Authority. I’m actually in the
Economic Development group. We’re a public power company. We serve about 10 million
residents across all of Tennessee, parts of Alabama,
Georgia, Mississippi, Kentucky, Virginia and North Carolina. Out of that 10 million
residents, about 85 percent of our service area’s made
up of rural communities. So we have a real passion for helping rural
communities create jobs and investment in our region. And I’m glad to be here. And welcome.>>Good morning. My name is Brigitte. [phonetic] And I’m
the Executive Director of Montana World Trade Center. And for those of you who
don’t yet know Montana, let me give you a
little bit of context, Montana is in the northwestern
region of the United States. We are one of the largest
states, geographically. We border three Canadian
provinces. And we are home to some of
the most amazing, pristine, natural places on the planet. So there’s your proper
context [laughter] on Montana. And in a place that has abundant
natural resources you might expect, and you’d be correct, that we have thriving
agricultural and extractive industries
in our state. You probably know that. But you may not know
things like this — did you know that
the state of Montana, for four of the last five
years, has been ranked by the Kauffman Foundation
as having the highest levels of startup and entrepreneurial
activity in a per-capita basis
in the nation? Bet you didn’t know that. But I’m going to talk with you
a little bit more about how that impacts the ROI equation. Thanks.>>That’s good to know.>>Yeah.>>[laughter] Good
morning as well. My name is Jonah Suartell. [phonetic] I’m representing
NewCold. And I’m responsible for their
business development in the USA. NewCold is a logistics
service provider focused on the supply chain for
frozen or refrigerated food. And what we feel that we can
do better than anybody else in the world is develop and
operate highly automated and robotized warehouses. And with that, we see that
we can offer a more reliable service to our customer at
double-digits lower cost, and at the same time use only 50
percent of the energy compared to more conventional
cold storage. So if you look at the
trends around the world in the availability of labor
that want to work in the 24/7, minus Fahrenheit environment
this is a good fit. And also for companies
that are looking to make their supply chains
more sustainable, from a service to their customer perspective, and energy use, we
also come in play. So what you see is that we
work with big food processors who know that we can do
this trick very well. And we work with them
collaboratively to determine where in their supply
chain it makes most sense to develop our business. And today I’m here also based
on the invitation of Team Idaho, which is consisting of people
from Burley, from the States and from Cassia County. And it’s an honor to be here. So thank you.>>We originally had three
panelists and we said; we need a more diverse group
because it was all women. [laughter] And so then we —
he’s our diversity panelist. [laughter] So — And we —
I’m from Fargo, North Dakota. And we had a very cold winter. So I guess what I was doing was
just setting things outside. Does that count as cold storage? [laughter]>>At that moment, definitely, but probably in summer
it doesn’t. [laughter] So you still need us.>>[laughing] Definitely. Okay, well our first topic
we’re going to discuss is — what are the things that
rural America has to offer? When you think about agriculture
or coal mining or oil extraction or logging — obviously
rural parts of the country have an
advantage over urban parts because those are generally
done in rural areas. But that’s common knowledge. So let’s discuss how rural
America also can be a destination for a
high-tech companies and high-tech investments. Is that possible? Do you have some examples
of how that can work? And let’s start out
with Brigitte.>>Right. So I actually think
that it’s the new normal for knowledge-based
industries to be siting outside of major metro areas and really
finding small, vibrant cities across rural America
where they can thrive. And just to give you a
couple of examples of that; in my home state
— in Montana — Oracle has operations
in Bozeman, Montana. They employ several
hundred people. It’s a stone’s throw from
Yellowstone National Park. In my hometown of
Missoula, Montana — if we’re talking about FDI
examples — UK firm, Cognizant, just acquired Advanced
Technology Group, a cloud computing
firm in our town. So the reason that these
multi-national companies are making this decision,
really it centers firmly on return on investment. So let me talk to you about a
couple of areas, they’re part of that return on
investment equation where I think some small cities in rural America really have
a competitive advantage. We’ll drill down on this a
little bit; first, turnover — or, more to the point,
lower turnover. Just to frame that a
little bit for you — I think it was LinkedIn that
did a study in 2017 looking across industries at turnover. And as you might expect, the tech industry has a
very high rate of turnover. I think it was maybe
second only to retail trade, something over 13
percent a year. Even the tech giants
like Google, they don’t typically hold
on to their tech employees for more than one year. So think about that; the many,
many, many millions of dollars that they spend to
onboard talent and you know to train talent and
to keep them on board. So what if you could
site in a location where you could have people who
wanted to stay in that location? What if their single driving
factor behind their existence wasn’t a six figure salary
but it was something more like having a short commute to
work or being able to go out and hike and bike and play
and have work/life balance. Right? I know a little
something about this because I’m not from Montana. I’m from the east coast of
the United States originally. And as a matter of fact, I lived
and worked in Washington DC for a number of years before I
escaped the Beltway [laughing] and headed to Montana. And I have never looked back. And I’ll tell you that I was
an outlier in my generation. But when we’re talking about
the tech industry and Gen Z, right now, this is all about
how they make their decisions. So when you’re talking
about being a tech industry or a tech company and where
to site, consider that. And the second part that
I’ll spend less time on, I promise there,
is this piece of — if you’re siting in rural
America, I don’t care if you’re a five person firm
or you’re a 500 person firm, I will guarantee you that
you will have an extended, dedicated team that will help
you, that wants to get you up and running and to the
point of profitability as quickly as possible. And yes, of course I’m talking about economic development
professionals. Raise your hand Montana
EDO people. [laughter] Yes. But I’m also talking
about an extended team — you know the university
system, who’s there and ready to be agile and work
with you and your firm to train the employees that you
need today and the employees that you’re going
to need tomorrow. I’m also talking about
accessibility and responsiveness from every level of government. I’ll talk about the
fact that in the state of Montana I guarantee
you that within a year of you establishing
operations there every member of our Congressional
Delegation will know you by your first name. Now, just think about how
that impacts your ability to achieve your business goals. [laughter]>>Heidi, I had you next.>>Yeah. So kind of building
on this Next Gen pipeline — so across our service area in rural communities
we’re finding some really, really unique ways that the
communities are getting the younger generation
interested in the workforce. For example, we have,
across our service area, where many industries and
educators are joining forces where actually teachers
will take time off from their service days, go
into a manufacturing operation and actually work and see what
the job skills are necessary for that young workforce
to come into play. And also, getting that
young workforce interested in manufacturing and maybe some
non-traditional industries — we’ve got some other communities
across the service region that are doing a lot in writing
of resumes, helping sixth and fifth graders interview. Again, just really drilling down
on the skills that are going to be necessary to
come into the workforce and how they can be
productive in their community. And then kind of touching on the
point earlier, of getting them to stay in that community,
wanting to live and work in that community. We’re seeing, across our
region, many STEM schools, coding schools, coding
camps, STEM camps. And we even have
one community — I thought this one was
really interesting — where they actually have
fifth, sixth, seventh, eighth and ninth graders that
are actually building rockets. And so to build the rocket,
you sign up for this camp, the rocket has to get
850 feet altitude. It has to fly around for
45 seconds and it has to carry two eggs in its rocket. So I think that’s just
a really interesting way to show engineering schools, problem solving,
math and science. So I think you’re seeing that
all across rural America. And I think that’s
really, really exciting and it’s a great
opportunity for investment.>>Great examples. Alyssa, do you have
something that you’d — ?>>Sure. So we at Avangrid has
operations in about 24 states, and particularly where we’re
building the large-scale wind farms, as you can imagine that’s
largely rural communities. When we look for workers
we’re looking for folks who do have perhaps
a farm background because it’s a transfer — provides some transferrable
skills at their end, which also provides
transferrable skills. We look for where there are
technical and community and kind of skills-based classes
or schools in order to provide the background
and then we will provide even on the job training as well. These all help to keep
people who want to stay in their rural communities,
in their rural communities. And it keeps them — as others
have said on the panel — close to family, allows them to
grow their community, etcetera. And we’re happy to be there. I do — I will also say, we’re building a very
large transmission line to bring hydropower from — hydro back down into
New England. We’re looking at that
project providing around 1,600 jobs during
the construction phase, largely through rural America. So to the extent that
we’re able to build up and build the community through,
you know job opportunities, we want to be able to do that. Finally I’ll just add
that it alternates kind of almost every other
year but solar technician and wind technician are the
two fastest growing jobs in the country and
are expected to be so for probably the
next 10 years.>>[interested knows]
Very interesting. Jonas, any additional points?>>Yeah, actually. So the interesting part of
course about agriculture, for instance — a topic with
that that everybody knows for the rural site, but I think in general throughout
the entire value chain of food processing you see
technology playing a larger and larger role. And that enables companies
to do things better on a larger scale
and more efficient. So I think we should step away
from just seeing tech jobs as people who code
or make chips. Tech is all around us. In every company you
cannot go around technology. And that’s what you see with
our key customer, McCain Foods. They invested in the most modern
French fry factory expansion in the world in Burley, Idaho. That’s a real rural area. And we built the most modern, automated cold storage
facility in rural USA. And that’s because, simply
it makes a lot of sense to use technology
in our business. What it does is at the same
time it generates jobs, not only for people that
code, but especially also for people that use technology. And the idea is that people
that use technology need to be a master or a doctor
in something is not true. It can be everybody, even
people that miss school at some point earlier
in their life, but are just really engaged and
really smart and have worked on the farm or managed a shop,
those people can get the skills to work with technology. And what we have found,
coming to Burley, Idaho, where there is a tremendous
growth going on, we were afraid that we couldn’t find the
skilled people because there was such low unemployment and the
complete opposite has been true. We are an exciting company
to work for, people find. And there’s a lot of skills that
people bring from other parts of the value chain, for instance
— for our main for instance, food processing or just
totally unrelated jobs. We have one person that
kept this stock control of a — what is it? A redistribution place
for used products. There’s a lot of people
with a tremendous mentality and skillset to work in our
highly automated facilities. And I think for that
reason that we came there because McCain Foods asked
us to come to Burley, but I think if it makes sense
for your supply chain to be in the rural side of
the USA don’t be afraid that you’ll find the right
people because they are there.>>So all of you
touched on working with educational institutions, even down into elementary
and middle school. And if you’re visiting
the US you may not realize that the model of education we
have here is significant local control of education. And local school boards
dictate the direction and policy of schools in every single town and school district
across the country. So there’s a huge amount of
variation, but there’s a lot of flexibility in that as well. And if the schools — the
elementary and high schools — you know you can actually
influence them more than if it were a nationally
determined curriculum or — it’s a lot more local variation than in other countries
— in the US. And that also goes for post-secondary
education as well. We have an enormous tapestry
of offerings in university — at university level,
where you have private, you have community college,
and university level and post-doctorate, you know
the whole [laughing] scale. And there too you have a lot
of partnerships and a lot of corporations partner
with the universities for technical training. So there’s a lot of
flexibility in that system. Let’s move on to another topic and then we’ll see
how much time is left. [laughter] So another topic is
— are rural Americans different to work with than
urban Americans? Is there a differentiation
in how people act or how people are
as far is if you’re. I mean, US is a huge country
and you’re trying to figure out the best place to site your
location, what should you know about looking at rural places? Is there things to
consider as far as the people, personalities? I think we were going to
start with Heidi on this one.>>Yes. So we’ve been fortunate
recently to locate a couple of foreign direct investment
in a couple of communities in Tennessee — in our
region in Tennessee. And it’s kind of been an
overriding theme of friendliness and willingness and warmth and
really looking outside the box. And I hate to use that phrase because sometimes it seems
cliche, but looking outside of that box to trying to help that company make the
best location decision. Certainly the business case
has to be proved, the site, the criteria, that
all has to line up. But it’s really that willingness of that local community,
that friendliness. We have found that
companies that have invested in rural communities have
gotten highly engaged on boards, have become great
corporate citizens, I mean really become intertwined
in the fabric of that community and become a really
strong partner in helping that rural community
continue to grow. So we think it’s just that
friendliness, that warmth and that really — sometimes
it’s that small thing that makes a difference when
a company chooses a location. And I think, in the rural
communities that we serve, we see that repeated over and
over, just that willingness and that warmth to really
help that company make that best decision for them.>>Brigitte, something to add?>>Yeah, I was thinking
about the best way to describe this succinctly. I would categorize people in
rural America, and particularly in the town where I live, as sort of disarmingly authentic
[laughing] and very practical and willing to take
responsibility for their work and overcome challenges
in the — that they may encounter in their
work, kind of using that tight, social network that
they’ve been able to develop living
in rural America. It’s kind of — it maybe — it takes a village is the
phrase we use here, right? So everybody knows how to roll
up their sleeves, and they do. So I think that is
very characteristic. I think that maybe just looking at a couple different case
studies is a good idea too. So, as you might expect,
or as I told you before, Montana has existing
FDI, particularly in agricultural processing. And one good example
of that — hi Jolene — is Nippon acquired Pasta Montana
in the golden triangle area of our state — wheat
producing area of our state. And that happened
some years ago. And we were thrilled
when that happened. They were thrilled with
the quality of the product and the place and the workforce. And I think what really under — you know underscores
their commitment and how pleased they
were was the fact that they made additional
investment, right? So further capital
investment, further job creation in that community
was proved out. So in more recent years, in
Montana, what we’re seeing is that not only FDI
and agricultural and extractive industries, but
we’re seeing FDI placements and opportunity in more
technology oriented areas. And again, that kind of ties
back to this startup ecosystem that exists and this
entrepreneurial spirit that exists in Montana. So, you know we have the highest
— well, you might not know. [laughter] We have the
highest number of photonics and optics firms in the nation
on a per capita basis, right? So this is right outside of — and this has to do with
Montana State University’s work. It’s Bozeman, Montana. The man that created the
first crystal that went into the first laser
[laughing] is from Montana. So there are a lot of
opportunities for FDI in that vertical — as
you may know, photonics and optics is embedded
technologies in many industries. We’re also seeing FDI in — and
I talked about cloud computing that is occurring in our
state and also bioscience. So GlaxoSmithKline has —
this is a major pharma firm and they have operations just
about 45 miles south of the town where I’m located,
Missoula, Montana. And the reason that’s happening
has a lot to do with workforce and this concept of
having sticky communities where they can have
highly educated, loyal, affordable talent. So that’s important. But I could talk until
I’m blue in the face about how great it
is in rural America, but I thought maybe you’d rather
hear it from your colleagues in business and industry. So what we did, and what
we put out front there, are these one page industry
briefs that have information about the industry, but then
FDI case studies on the back for you to consider as well. So if you’d like to talk more
about that, please let me know. Thanks.>>Excellent. Jonas, you have a
firsthand experience?>>Of course.>>Choosing where you were
locating and how that went?>>Yes. Yes. So again, our decision to identify Burley was mainly
driven initially by McCain Foods because they had a need for a
partner in their supply chain. But what was very —
I say it’s different or a great experience — was the
way the Team Idaho welcomed us from the first meeting that
took place and also helped us to take away, very early in
the process, perceived risks about investment in our big
facility in Burley, Idaho, knowing that there’s
a couple of elements which normally are not really
in the black and white area of your regulations,
for instance, buildings, which are not 60 feet
high, but 140 feet high. And people can think that
they block their view, stuff like that. Or that we reduce the oxygen in
our storage area to prevent fire from existing, which is also
from a fire prevention side — but it’s from an OSHA side. So it is a point of attention. Sometimes that takes, literally
what we’re seeing now in France, years to convince
local regulators that this is actually in-line
with existing regulation. In France it has delayed a
project one and a half years. Over here, two years ago,
we had the first meeting with Doug Manning [assumed
spelling] and Team Idaho, talking about our project,
including the technology. And one week thereafter they
made an assessment saying, don’t worry, this will happen. Let us know how we can help you. And that’s the reason
this project — the course of which
was announced as an investment last year
— is currently operational and ramping up their
business in Burley, Idaho. And I think that this will be
a very, very difficult timeline for other projects we will
do in the future to beat, knowing that of course,
at the same time, 90 million plus investment. So this is not a
shed in your backyard which we have developed
in the meantime. [laughter] If there is
concerns also of people from the rural USA, remote,
you don’t find suppliers. If you have a cool project, people will come
there to work for you.>>Yes.>>And there’s enough local
people to strengthen the teams which they bring
in from outside. So don’t worry about that.>>Did you work with
a community college? Was there a connection
with that?>>Not yet. That’s — but we hope
that our system operators, maintenance people, people
that work in our facility with our technology will
increasingly be coming from those community colleges because it’s exactly the
right education level. And if I can quote our Site
Manager, Derek Bethkey, [phonetic] he said that in the
past, when he graduated from and MBA in Utah, he had
to go to the other side of the USA to find a good job. But by investments like
McCain and like NewCold, people with good education
can stick around locally. And I think that’s going to
create a cluster of activities. And having a pool
of labor available to manage that is exciting.>>Alyssa.>>So, by in large what
we’ve found in rural America, particularly when siting our
renewable energy projects, is a welcoming environment. And I think — you know our
situation may be slightly unique, but what
farmers, land owners and rural communities have
found is that when we come in we not only bring the jobs but also landowners are
essentially getting a cash crop, if you will. Where, you know regardless
of whether there’s flood or there’s drought, if
there’s a wind turbine located on your property, you’re receiving a
lease payment from us. It helps people to, you know in some cases keep
their family farm — keep their farm in their
family or, you know it helps to provide kind of some —
you know if you will some sort of 401K or insurance
plan for the family. And then if you think
beyond the community, and a lot of the
communities we’re operating in we are the largest taxpayer,
we help fund initiatives at the schools, at the
libraries, fire stations, etcetera through, you know
our tax base and also our, you know community efforts. So by and large we do find
a very welcoming community when we’re looking to invest. And I guess you see that through
our round about 60 projects across the country and round
about 4,000 landowners.>>So, to summarize a little
bit, what might be unique in rural areas is — if you grew
up on a farm or in a rural area, you kind of have to be
a jack of all trades. You have to learn
a lot of skills and you may be doing building,
you may be doing agriculture. I grew up on a farm as well. I mean you’re a veterinarian. [laughter] You’re an agronomist. You’re all these things. And it gives people a diverse
skillset that may not be on paper, but it gives a lot of
creativity and knowhow and kind of can-do attitude that’s
very useful for employees to have this kind of
attitude and background because they can draw on that
skillset gained over a lifetime and use it in different ways.>>And they’re also
creating businesses that might be appropriate
targets for, you know vertical integration
of supply chain through FDI. Yeah.>>And farmers are some of
the most inventive people.>>They are.>>A lot of inventions came out of farmers’ [laughing]
heads, right?>>Absolutely.>>So let’s tackle another topic
here and then we’ll move on to Q and A. So, if you’re
selecting — do you have any tips
on site selection? The United States is such
a huge country and even over at the Rural
Booth we were chatting with someone this morning. Where should I go in
the United States? Do you have any tips or
best practices advice to help people get a
strategy or some ideas for things they can do. It’s good this seminar’s
at the beginning of the Select USA Summit because
there’s still a lot of time to explore and meet with people. So do you have any tips? Jonas, do you want to lead off?>>I would say, start first
with your own supply chain. Understanding it well and thoroughly understanding
also what your cost and revenue base is based on. Because those elements that
are driving your profitability and driving your supply chain
will point you immediately to the places where it’s
most efficient to be. And there’s likely going
to be multiple locations that you then consider. But I would start at that
higher level and then narrow down to compare locations
based on the details of your cost proposal. So what we normally do
— we don’t only look at, for instance, what’s
the cost of land or which states can give
the highest incentives. We look at, where
is our customer? What’s the proximity to that? Where’s the transport
cost the best? Where do we find good talent? What are our labor costs? What are the power costs? What are — unfortunately
— property taxes? It’s a very — if you have
a capital-rich industry, like the windmills, property
taxes are big cost driver. And we marry up all
those quantitative and qualitative elements
in a model that we built and then we pick a location. But yeah, I would say always
start with your own supply chain and your own profits and loss
statements to look where, yeah the real drivers
of success are.>>So you developed your
own software to kind of analyze locations and choose?>>I would be lying
if I said, yes. But this is an Excel
spreadsheet. [laughter] Quite –>>You may have heard of it.>>An artisan approach
to it but it works. Yeah. Don’t tell our investors. [laughter] This is all
recorded I hope, yeah? [laughter]>>It is recorded.>>Oh.>>I do the same thing. I do market research to help
companies find export markets. So it’s also Excel-based.>>Yeah.>>Hey, keep it simple, right? [laughter]>>Let’s come now
I guess this way. Brigitte, do you have any advice
on site selection or tips?>>I guess I would say just
kind of tying into Jonas’s — sorry, Jonas’s — comments,
is be honest with yourself about where that business
case exists for your firm in the United States
and be seeking partners that can help you build
for the long-term. You know in the state of
Montana we absolutely — we do have programs that reward
companies for job creation and capital investment. But the incentive
programs that we offer — and I notice the incentive
session earlier was brimming at the door. They were turning people away. That’s — you all know that that’s not the primary
driver for why you site. That’s just something that can
help your numbers be even better if you find the right location. So find those long-term partners that are going to
work hard for you. Again, I just circle back to the
people, not only as employees in Montana, but those people
that are going to be part of that extended team to
help you get your business up and running. We’re not jaded in
rural America. We understand and
appreciate the value of every single job
that’s created. So look for those good, long-term partners
in rural America. And then the other thing
that I would say — although I must admit Heather, I
have not read the entire report yet that you put out on FDI. But I have been —
done some travelling, when I go outside the
United States and I visit with the US Commercial Service
personnel about Montana — who we are, how we’ve
changed over the years — and inevitably they’re surprised
because, I will tell you that statistics do not bare
out the kind of expertise and talents that exist in rural
states, including our state. So it’s incumbent upon me
to be messaging about — well, did you know this? And did you know that? And present business cases
for FDI in our state. So I guess, yes,
look at the numbers. But don’t be entirely
driven by big numbers. Look for those partners that
are going to help you achieve that intellectual capital that’s
going to help you achieve.>>And your two points is
the per capita thing is very important.>>Very important.>>Because –>>All of our stats are
per capita in Montana. [laughter] Yeah.>>When you have a low
capita — [laughter]>>Yeah. [laughter]>>Okay, Heidi.>>So even drilling
down in that question — so who might those partners be? Certainly Select USA has
a team that can help you. Local power providers, utility
companies like TBA can help you. But I think sometimes
your best advocate and your best partner will
be that local community, that region that
you’re working in. They’re the ones that live
in and work in that area. They can really help you through
the process of understanding. But state agencies
are very good. Regional partnerships are good. But that local community
is the one at the end of the day that’s going to really help your company
understand what’s available, what’s not available. How can work? How can it work? And really work through that
problem-solving phase with you as you’re making a
location decision. But the partnerships
are out there and I think everyone
mentioned is more than willing to be a partner and is equally
interested in your success.>>Great. I agree
with your comments. I would add that when Iberdrolla
[phonetic] was first looking to come to the United
States, what they were looking for was regulatory
certainty and stability. And they found that
here in the US. And when you drill
down and you look at the various states,
same thing. State laws, state regulatory
certainty, local and regional as well, all of that has been
critically important to us, you know as we go out
and look to siting. And you know does a
state have set-back laws or siting laws and restrictions? How could that impact
development? All of those issues
were important to us and there is likely
something specific to that regulatory
environment to you all who are here in the room. And I guess maybe this is a
good opportunity for me also to make a plug for the Senate
to pass the pending Tax Treaties that exist between the
US and seven countries. Those tax treaties
have been pending now for six — at least six years. I’ve been working on
them for six years, so waiting to get those
across the finish line. And you know hope
to get those passed because that would
create more regulatory — more certainty for companies
that are investing in the US. So thank you.>>That reminds me of
something that I often come across in my export
assistance work that seems to be a unique thing
maybe to the US, is because of our stability and
rule of law, I find that a lot of companies tend to —
there’s a lot more trust that people are going to
be honest and authentic and not everyone’s trying
to cheat you every minute because our legal system
protects companies. If you are wronged in some way
our legal system will likely be a strong resource for you. So people tend not
to rely as much on — I mean there’s two
sides of the coin. I’m speaking probably more
of smaller businesses. But there’s a lot of trust
in business relationships that I think is predominate
in the US. But we do have a
lot of lawyers too. [laughter]>>Yes.>>That sometimes overseas, people are expecting a similar
experience in then they find that maybe not so much. There’s not that trust. There’s not that really reliable
legal system that’s actually going to, you know help you
out in your time of need. So it provides a lot of trust
that people just have a lot of verbal contracts
and I would say in rural America in particular. There’s a huge amount of trust. That’s maybe something unique.>>True.>>Anyone disagree or agree? [laughing]>>I agree.>>Yes and no. Yeah. I think in general there
is a big legal basis which to — which protects companies
and people alike. At the same time, neglecting
that, if you come new to the market, would
not be the right thing. I would advise everybody
who enters the USA to definitely look at the
legal side of the business and making sure to
involve the right experts, which often means having
local experts involved from the legal side or the
accounting side, to advise you of how you protect
your business. And so, yes, a lot of trust, but
also a lot of work to be done.>>Trust but verified. Who said that? [laughing] Let’s move into some
Q and A. Can we use the mics? Should we use the standup mics? Okay, go ahead.>>[unintelligible]
And I have a question for the state panelists. So Heidi, a couple years ago you
all had a millennial attraction and development strategy
for your rural areas. So how’s that going? Fast forward a couple years
and how’s it happen — how’s it sort of developing?>>Yeah. So in our service area, again it’s the seven
state region, we developed a young
professionals or a young talent
cabinet and a group. And so we have, across
our service area, about 400 young professionals
in that — on that team. And we do — we offer
training, they go to seminars, constantly encouraging
that young professional or that young talent
to get engaged and understand what
the opportunities are for them in their work career. So yes, so we’ve been
really passionate about paying attention to
that younger generation and also inciting our
communities to do the same. So making sure that there are
outlets for young professionals to get involved on
boards in groups, you know civically
and professionally. So yes, it’s taken off pretty
well and it keeps developing. So it’s something that
we’ll stay involved in. And then we’ve seen where,
in my examples earlier, where communities have taken
advantage of even going down into the schools
and in other groups. So a lot of apprenticeship
programs, a lot of dual enrollment
programs. So it’s just — it’s
really paying attention to where this young generation
is going to live and work and hopefully keep on living
and working in your community. So thanks for the question.>>Any additional questions?>>I have one.>>Okay, [laughter] we have — okay, Brigitte, what
is your question?>>Yes, I’m going
to go off the board. [laughter] I want to know who’s
in the room in the sense of — are there companies that are
most interested in ag relating to rural FDI or technology? So if you have an ag
interest, raise your hand. Okay. Technology? I see a few hands there. That’s great. [laughter] I mean obviously
there are many, many other, different verticals, but I
bet if we would have asked that question even a
couple of years ago — I think it’s always been
very heavily weighted to agricultural FDI interest. So I’m really glad to see that.>>Okay. Any other questions? Don’t be shy. [laughing]>>We have wowed them
with our information.>>Yeah. I guess.>>All right.>>Maybe [unintelligible]
if there’s any interest to hear our perspective going
forward, drop by the booth of Team Idaho and they will
have my contact details. So you can always reach out
if questions are still there.>>So you’ll be in
the Idaho booth. I have a rural booth over in the
US Government Pavilion as well.>>I’m in Booth 535,
the Montana Team. And we’ve got people
in the room as well. Yeah.>>Anywhere they can find you? No.>>I’m wandering around
[laughter] everywhere.>>I have a card. I have to run, but
I have a card.>>We also have a few
handouts on the back there. And there’s — I’m sure
you’ve discovered this through the email —
there’s a matchmaking program through Select USA where
you can solicit meetings. So feel free to use
that as well. And that’s I think
that covers it.>>We are right on time.>>Thank you.>>All right.>>Questions?>>Thank you.>>Okay, thank you. [applause]

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