PLYMOUTH — Foreign direct investment already creates more than 43,000 jobs in the Granite State. During a recent forum at Plymouth State University, representatives of business, academia and government explored ways of bringing in more of it.
Co-hosted by PSU and the New Hampshire Department of Business and Economic Affairs, the Oct. 11 forum was highlighted with a presentation made by three Plymouth educators: Jonathan Dapra, assistant professor of management; Roxana Wright, professor of management; and Chen Wu, associate professor of economics.
The three discussed foreign direct investment (FDI), defined as when businesses from one country invest in firms in another one. Dapra and Wright later led a discussion on how New Hampshire can attract and grow more such investment.
The United States is the world’s largest recipient of FDI, with some $4.34 trillion in 2018, according to reports prepared by Dapra, Wright and Wu.
And while New Hampshire is “not a top destination of direct investments as compared to other states,” it nonetheless “benefits from the diversity of FDI,” the reports said, “with patterns of activity that match and support overall economic progress.”
At present, 43,300 jobs are “directly supported” by FDI in the state, thanks to investments from 24 countries through 186 companies operating in 46 industries.
Canada, the United Kingdom and Germany are the top three sources of FDI money coming to New Hampshire.
Most of that money, 70 percent, is concentrated in the state’s three southernmost counties, said Dapra, with Hillsborough alone having 40 percent, and most of it is going into high tech.
“There are potential opportunities for spillovers of foreign investment from the south further to the north,” wrote Dapra, Wright and Wu, and the potential “to grow foreign-business presence in the less FDI-represented northern region of the state is also optimistic.”
They noted that even Sullivan County, which has the least FDI, attracts it from seven countries.
In what he described to forum attendees as an FDI “primer,” Dapra said “FDI all comes down, again, to the benefits,” among them increased revenues; potentially exports; jobs; innovation; and entrepreneurism.
The benefits come with long-term sustainability, he said, adding that the best FDI is achieved when Business, Academia and Government form a ‘triad” to promote it.
He hoped that the PSU forum “is the start of a conversation” about FDI and making New Hampshire an even more welcoming place for FDI.
Wu pointed out that even during the Great Recession, foreign companies were expanding in New Hampshire, with Wright stressing that “these companies are here to stay.”
Whether by building from scratch, merger or acquisition, the majority of foreign-owned businesses in New Hampshire are of small-to-moderate size and therefore have the potential for expansion, said Wright. In addition to creating jobs, those companies are “really investing” in human resources and leadership training, she said, as well as on product development and research-and-development.