Governor Steve Beshear will depart today for Europe, with meetings planned in Germany and France to showcase Kentucky's business-friendly climate and strengthen existing ties with European companies already operating facilities in the Commonwealth.
"Kentucky has a lot to offer companies in Europe and all over the world, for that matter," said Gov. Beshear. "Already, foreign direct investment plays a vital role in our economy, with billions of dollars in value for the Commonwealth, but it's my hope to continue to grow that amount and capitalize on the global market."
Foreign direct investment coming into the Commonwealth totaled more than $28.2 billion in 2007, the most recent year for which data is available. Germany ranked second in foreign direct investment, behind only Japan, with $8.5 billion. France was fourth, closely behind the United Kingdom, with $1 billion invested in the Commonwealth.
To boost economic development leads from European companies, Kentucky opened an office in Hamburg, Germany last summer. Gov. Beshear will follow up on several business opportunities that have arisen thanks to the on-the-ground, in-country support designed to develop relationships with European business leaders.
"We're seeing a lot of great leads come out of our Germany office, many that are close to making a final decision," said Kentucky Economic Development Cabinet Secretary Larry Hayes, who will join Gov. Beshear on the trip. "Kentucky is already home to nearly 180 European-owned businesses, representing just over 26,000 employees. With the leadership of Gov. Beshear, we have a good opportunity to greatly enhance this presence."
Just last May, Gov. Beshear made an economic development trip to Asia to visit business leaders in Taiwan and Japan. Following the trip, Taica Corporation announced its decision to locate its first North American manufacturing facility in Winchester. In all, more than 9,000 new jobs and capital investments in excess of $2.3 billion have been announced by foreign-owned companies during Gov. Beshear's administration.
"We are living in a global market, there is no doubt," said Gov. Beshear. "Foreign-owned companies are investing millions of dollars and creating thousands of jobs in the Commonwealth. Our infrastructure, workforce, and incentive programs allow Kentucky to stand out as a prime location for companies, but we have to be aggressive about touting our resources and advantages to attract these businesses."
Currently, Kentucky has more than 400 foreign-owned facilities employing nearly 76,000 workers.
Information on Kentucky's economic development efforts and programs is available at www.ThinkKentucky.com. Fans of the Cabinet for Economic Development can also join the discussion on Facebook at www.Facebook.com/ThinkKentucky or follow on Twitter at www.Twitter.com/ThinkKentucky.
The Governor will also spend two days in Normandy, France as part of an American delegation in support of the Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games 2014, which will be held there. The delegation will meet with economic and tourism development officials, as well as the president of the Normandy Council and its members. In 2010, when Lexington, Kentucky hosted the Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games, a French delegation visited the Kentucky Horse Park to support the event and to prepare for hosting the 2014 competition. The 2010 games marked the first time the event had ever been held outside of Europe.