By JIM KUHNHENN
WASHINGTON (AP) _ President Barack Obama is hosting executives from 11 foreign and U.S.-based companies that have chosen to open new plants or relocate overseas operations in the United States. The gathering Tuesday is designed to illustrate growing interest in the United States by firms capable of creating high-paying jobs.
Obama is showcasing the effect of an improving economy on job growth during a congressional election year that finds the public still anxious about employment and financial wellbeing.
“The rest of the world is seeing the benefits of `Made in America,’ and for good reason,” said Jeff Zients, a top Obama adviser and director of the National Economic Council. “Our competitive advantage is very clear.”
White House advisers said an effort by Obama to streamline U.S. outreach to foreign companies has resulted in $18 billion in new business investments in the United States in 17 different states and territories. They said the program, called SelectUSA, has helped nearly 500 businesses since October.
The executives invited to Tuesday’s White House round-table discussion were from Ford, chip manufacturer GlobalFoundries, toy maker K’nex, South Korea’s Hankook Tire, German airline Lufthansa, Swedish technology firm Ericsson, Danish biotechnology company Novozymes, Canadian apparel maker Richelieu, Belgian materials technology company Umicore, French high-tech company Safran and Switzerland-based Zurich Insurance Group.
Obama was to announce he will hold a SelectUSA summit next spring, with a goal of attracting more than 2,500 people from around the world to discuss job creation and the appeal of investing in the United States.
According to a report prepared by the White House and the Commerce Department, U.S. affiliates of foreign corporations pay average compensation that is higher than the average compensation for workers in the economy as a whole.
Obama advisers point to a survey last fall by the Boston Consulting Group, a global management consulting firm, which found that 54 percent of executives of large U.S.-based manufacturing companies said they planned on or were considering moving production facilities back to the U.S. from China. That was up from 37 percent a year earlier.
And the latest survey of confidence in foreign direct investment by A.T. Kearney, another global management consulting firm, found that the United States had regained the top spot as an investment destination for the first time since 2001.