US Secretary of Commerce Hosts Roundtable Discussion with Communities Including Northwest Florida

Northwest Florida – Florida’s Great Northwest (FGNW), the regional economic development organization for the Florida panhandle, participated in this year’s SelectUSA Investment Summit, the highest-profile event in the United States dedicated to promoting foreign direct investment (FDI). SelectUSA is a U.S. government program led by the U.S. Department of Commerce.

FGNW President & CEO Jennifer Conoley was asked to serve as a participant in a closed door, invitation-only meeting with U.S. Secretary of Commerce Gina Raimondo and Deputy Secretary Don Graves during the Summit. The small group roundtable focused on the unique challenges and opportunities associated with attracting FDI into underserved communities. Conoley represented Northwest Florida, one of only 14 areas invited to attend the session. Other roundtable participants included representatives from private sector firms who have invested in underserved communities and federal agencies whose mandate relates to underserved communities. 

Through her participation, Conoley was able to bring awareness to the needs of urban and rural underserved communities in Northwest Florida, explore synergies between federal agencies and discuss strategies on how the federal government can best support economic development organizations and communities in the future.

While there are many definitions of underserved communities, SelectUSA uses assesses if a U.S. community is underserved through three criteria: more than 20 percent of the population falls under the poverty line; the unemployment rate is greater than 8.1 percent or more than one standard deviation from the median of 3.2 percent; and 50 percent of households have an income below $50,000.

The SelectUSA Investment Summit serves as a connection and networking event for economic developers interested in meeting with investors who are seeking to establish or expand their business operations in the U.S. This year’s summit had more than 3,600 attendees from more than 70 international markets and 51 states and territories. In addition to the off-agenda roundtable discussion, FGNW gained much exposure during the event:

  • President Conoley was also selected to speak on a panel during one of the information sessions about investment attraction in Northwest Florida.
  • Florida was one of only four US states to be invited to present to a group of 20 Singaporean companies attending the summit and President Conoley spoke about the region during the presentation.
  • Enterprise Florida was an exhibitor at the event and hosted a Sunshine State Soiree Reception. FGNW participated and was allowed to give a few remarks at the event.
  • In addition, FGNW made numerous direct company contacts and are already working several potential projects opportunities for Northwest Florida.

SelectUSA is the U.S. government program led by the U.S. Department of Commerce that focuses on facilitating job-creating business investment into the United States and raising awareness of the critical role that economic development plays in the U.S. economy. Since its inception, SelectUSA has facilitated more than $105 billion in investment, creating and/or retaining over 138,000 U.S. jobs.




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