Foreign direct investment: Bringing the world economy to our backyard

February 13, 2023
Written by: Peter Madrid, MadridMedia
Canada. Mexico. Germany. Taiwan. United Kingdom. France.

These are just a few of the countries with which Arizona companies conduct business – and sometimes on a large scale.

“In Arizona alone, 136,000 jobs depend of foreign direct investment,” said Ruth Soberanes, International Trade Specialist with the U.S. Commercial Service. “In 2021, the U.S. did $333 billion in foreign direct investment.”
Soberanes and three other panelists discussed foreign direct investment (FDI) to kick off AZCREW’s series of relevant and compelling luncheon events. Joining her at the sold-out event at the offices of Kitchell were Casey Gilchrist with Greater Phoenix Economic Council (GPEC); Laura Franco French with chip maker TSMC; and Brooke Taff with Wood, Patel & Associates, Inc. AZCREW President Samantha Pinkal with GPEC introduced the January program topic and panelists.

The biggest and best example of FDI in our backyard is the massive, $40 billion Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company (TSMC) plant being built in north Phoenix. The facility is expected to begin mass production in 2024, according to French.

The plans to build the TSMC plant in the U.S. – the first build-out out of Asia – had been in the works for years, she said. Arizona was awarded the project for a number of reasons, including a robust workforce and collaboration with entities such as Arizona State University and GPEC.
 All the panelists agreed that understanding the world economy is crucial for Arizona companies intent on bringing FDI to the state.

“Some cultures are more direct,” Soberanes said. “Being aware of cultural norms is very important.”
Understanding the challenges and the time it takes to deliver an FDI project is also crucial.

“The cadence with which a project gets delivered is sometimes very different,” Taff said. “A lot of discipline is involved having FDI partners understand U.S. building standards. In the end, though, it’s well worth it.”

Whether it’s semiconductor chips or life and bio sciences, Arizona is quickly becoming a landing spot for FDI. Working with collaborative entities to help with those initial conversations is also a key.

“GPEC has helped bring more than 100 international companies to Arizona,” Gilchrist said. “Most of them in the past 10 years. Being a cheerleader for their success is a big part of what we do.”