Trade & Investment Regulations

Trade & Investment Regulations


>>Investors who have
invested hundreds of millions of dollars just over the
last couple of years. So we’ll look forward to
hearing more from them and their firsthand
experience, both in dealing with the terrific investment
climate that we’ve had, the regulatory improvements
that we’ve seen over the last couple of years. The commitment of
the administration to our workforce
initiatives, and ensuring that there’s a talent — a
pipeline of talent that is, to ensure that they have the
workforce that they need. But it just really is
incredible to see, you know, this commitment to expanding
in the United States, to access this ever-growing
market, and without further ado, I just would like to introduce and have them introduce
themselves and the companies. My name is Ian Steff
[assumed spelling], and I serve as the
deputy assistant secretary for manufacturing,
and also serve as the acting assistant
secretary of global markets, and head up the foreign
commercial service. And it all fits on a
business card, as well as — [laughter] in the event that
you want it, you can have it. But I would start with Mark. Why don’t we — Mark, yes
— Mark, where are you? There we go, Mark.>>Sure. Thank you. Thank you, Ian, for
the introduction. So I’m — my name is Mark
Rubakowski [assumed spelling]. I head up our law firm’s
international trade practice. The law firm is called
Clark Hill. I’m based here in
Washington, D.C., and I’ll tell you a little
bit about my background. I actually started
at the Department of Commerce 20 years ago in international
trade administration, working on anti-dumping and
countervailing duty cases, trade remedy cases, basically. And since then, I went into
the private sector about 2000, and have been working
with foreign companies that are affected
by these cases, affected by the tariffs,
and U.S. importers. So my goal, I guess, is to
provide you with a little bit of a different perspective on how the trade policy
has affected our clients, affected foreign companies,
affected U.S. importers, and also individuals
within those companies, how they view this — and I wouldn’t call it
necessarily a trade war. Because you can —
it really depends on what perspective
you’re taking. Some may take it as a trade war
that the president has started with China, with Mexico, Canada
over NAFTA, with global partners over auto — automobile tariffs that are proposed,
aluminum, steel. Others may say that this is
actually an overdue policy, that for years, for decades, other administrations have
neglected the situation. The deficit has gotten
out of control, and something needed to be done. So it really does
depend on what — you know, what perspective you
say, and also trade war is kind of a loaded term, because we
may have our own casualties. It could be friendly fire. So it really depends on how you
take — how you approach this. So I will try to
answer some key points, mainly what our clients’
reactions have been, what can be done to help
companies navigate this landscape, because it
is constantly evolving. Basically, what tools
are available to minimize or to mitigate, and to continue
doing business as usual, and maybe even grow
through this process.>>Thank you. Dalip [assumed spelling]?>>Hello. First of all, thank —
I want to thank the Department of Commerce for giving me
this opportunity to talk about the wonderful work that Mahindra has been
doing here in this country. I am Dalip Sundaram
[assumed spelling]. I am the president for
Mahindra Group in the Americas, and we are about a $2.7 billion
business here just in the U.S. And we got about 4000
employees, American citizens and permanent residents,
and in addition to that, we have a number of
contract employees. So our total bench strength is about 7000 people here
in the U.S. alone. So I think the — one of the
reasons I think I’m sitting out here is probably because not
only have I had the experience of having developed
businesses in the U.S. — have invested in the U.S., but I think I have a comparative
perspective on what it takes to build a business
all over the world. I mean, whether you want to
invest in Brazil, or Slovakia, or India, or China, I think
I do have a certain amount of perspective. But I think here,
we are here to talk about how we can be
successful here in the U.S.>>Thank you. Thank you, Dalam. I will move on to Sameer
[assumed spelling]. Sameer?>>Hi, everybody, Sameer
Kapadia [assumed spelling], COO with the Vogel Group
[assumed spelling]. I’m here principally
representing a number of companies that have invested
billions of dollars in the U.S. over the past year and a half, principally to talk
about JSW Steel. I’m the chief advisor for JSW in
terms of their investment here in the United States,
and last year, going to share some
wonderful stories about a $500 million
investment in Baytown, Texas, and a $500 million
investment in Mingo Junction, Ohio in the steel industry. And those reasons
were principally for the dynamic shifts
we have in trade. Protectionism, as
some would call it, has had a positive impact
on encouraging investment in now-protected markets,
where imports are limited, and where domestic suppliers
now have the chance to sell on a level playing field. These are the opinions
of many CEOs and chairmen of global companies,
particularly from India, that are now coming into the
United States in a big way. Frankly, even this year,
right now, we’re working on a $250 million new
aluminum forging plant, and I’m very pleased to see
the secretary of commerce from Kentucky, Mr. Vivek
Sarin, in the audience. We’ve been visiting
with him quite often about that potential investment. So trade is impacting investment
in a big way, more than it has in the past, and there’s a lot
of positive stories about that. So I can certainly
talk about that.>>Okay. Thank you, Sameer. Darrell?>>Darrell Colbert [assumed
spelling], J.J. Richards. We’re an Australian
waste company. We’re Australia’s largest
privately-owned waste company, billion dollars in revenue in
Australia, and after 87 years, trading in that Australia-New
Zealand market, the family that owned
the business decided — let’s have a crack in the U.S., and see what we can
do over there. So when you think of Waste
Management, Republic Services, that’s effectively who we
are in the Australian market. We’re a very diverse
business, vertically integrated with landfills, your
traditions MERFs [phonetic] and collection business,
but we also diversify. We’ve got a couple
of oil refineries, where we take used engine oil, and produce a base lube that’s
sold back to the oil producers. So there’s a few hundred
million dollars invested in those refineries
in Australia. We’ve also developed a biofuel,
and our biggest customer, once that’s established and
up and running at this end of this year or early next
year, will be the U.S. Navy. So we’ve got a fair bit of
interaction with the U.S. now. We’ve also got another
business that I’m bringing over here called Pulp
Master, which is going to revolutionize the way
food waste is handled and collected in
the U.S. market. So we’ve invested
a fair bit to date, but there’s a lot
more investment going to happen all over the country. We’re in Florida, and recently
established a business in Texas. So we’re — we’ve hit the
ground running, and look forward to having this discussion today about investing in
the U.S. climate.>>Thank you, Darrell. You know, looking back
on the recent investments that you’ve made, which
have amounted to, you know, billions of dollars over,
you know, just the last year and a half, as Sameer mentioned. Can you, you know,
just talk a little bit about what initially
led to that investment, how and why you chose
the state that you did, and what advice would
you have for other states and economic developers
in the audience? So these would be for companies that you’re representing
here today. So we’ll begin with you.>>Well, actually,
as a law firm, we personally would not
be investing in the U.S., but our clients certainly
have moved in this direction, and the trade policies
have led to this focus. So many foreign companies
have considered moving production here. The incentive may have been
the tariffs, to be honest, and it just simply makes sense. And it is becoming
more expensive to — for them to produce,
for instance, in China, different products. Even Mexico was not really a
clear option at this point, so moving production into the
U.S. has been on their radar. Interestingly, some
of the issues that they’ve encountered were
finding the right labor force. And so, the different states
have different opportunities for them in that regard,
but certainly has — we’ve seen an increase
in attention to investing in the U.S. for our clients.>>Sure. Dalip?>>So I’m very proud
to say that, you know, we are the first
company to invested in Detroit in the last 25 years. So we all know what Detroit went
through, what Michigan has gone through over the last few years, but we decided we had
confidence in Michigan. We really invested in Michigan
because we saw the talent pool out there, and so we
started out by setting up a technical center there. And the technical and research
facility kind of morphed into manufacturing
and an assembly plant. So we have three
locations there, and we are looking
for the fourth. So I think that is really
something we have to say. Now, one of the reasons
also is the fact that U.S. is the largest
economy in the world. I mean, we cannot ignore
that fact, and also, U.S. is one of the fastest-growing
economy in the world. So you have very few
countries that can boast of higher growth rates
than the U.S., and — but then, even then, I mean,
U.S. is the largest economy. So unless you are really
a player here, you know, if you really want to grow your
company, if you really want to be called a global
multi-national, you need to be in the U.S. So it
represented those kind of opportunities for us. Again, the skill set and
the talent pool that we have in this country is
unparalleled, and so, it just — it was a no-brainer for
us to come here, invest, and we chose Michigan
again because, for us, that focus of our
investment was in automotive. Now, Mahindra is a federation
of companies with a number of different businesses, but where we invested
was in automotive. And so, for us, Michigan
makes perfect sense.>>Thank you. Sameer, any comments
on your experiences with the companies
you’re representing?>>Yeah, so I think, look, you should never make an
investment decision based upon politics. Don’t do it. It’ll end up in failure. You have to do it based
upon a few things. First has got to be
your business model. So if you’re a manufacturer,
and you want to pursue making a new
factory in the United States, you got to think — I’m going to
be using a lot of electricity. Where can I find
favorable utilities rates? Kentucky’s the lowest
in the country. You might think to yourself, I
need access to roads, rivers, and railways, if you’re
moving a lot of product. So where can you go? Ohio is fantastic. Then you got to think, I
need cheap natural gas. Go to Texas. Now, these are business
decisions, when you’re thinking about your cost of operations. Once you determine that,
go meet these states. Go meet five of these — they call them economic
development offices. Every state in the United
States has an economic development office. Go to them, talk with them. They’ll set up meetings
with you, and they’ll walk through all the reasons
why you should be investing in their state. And they’ll give these
things called incentives. They’ll give you cheap
utility rates for five years. They’ll give you
property tax abatements. They’ll give you property income
tax rebates over five years, and there’ll be like
a competition to see who’s giving
you the best deal. And then once you isolate — okay, here’s where I know my
business operations are going to be the most sound, and
then you know you’re going to get the best deal
from the government. Then start and focus
on operations. So it’s a very systematic
process. Of course, as — to Dalip’s
point, this is the market. If you’re not in
the United States, then you’re clearly
missing on something, but the second point is, the trade dialogue
has encouraged people to give the U.S. another
look because of the costs. So really, it comes down to
doing your business analysis, meeting the states, negotiating
an incentive package, and starting a company. That’s how I would
advise you to start.>>Thank you. Darrell, any comments
on that front?>>Yeah. Well, this time
two years ago, actually, I was doing our assessment
of the U.S. market, and I spent seven weeks here, and concluded actually
here at Select USA. Now, out of that travel that
I did, I identified Texas and Florida really as the
key markets for our entry into the trash business. Those areas are booming. Both states are booming, and
the area that we chose to go to, Orlando, is one of the
fastest-growing cities in the U.S., lot of
infrastructure work going on there at the moment. So what I look for is a lot of rubbish being generated
around the country. So that market really stood
out to us, and I basically met up with Enterprise Florida
here, and the Orlando Office of Economic Development. And they basically guided
me through, and convinced me that Florida was really key
for our entry into the market. Our biggest competitors on a national level here are
all headquartered in Texas, so it didn’t make sense to
us to actually go and kind of poke the bear, and make sure
that we went under the radar for as long as we could. And we were able to
achieve that in Florida. So yeah — and now,
we’re looking at — we manufacture all of our
own bins in Australia. Our own trucks are
manufactured in Australia. We manufacture the computers
that go into the truck, the hardware and the software, so we’re about to establish
another business in Texas. And that’ll manufacture all
of that equipment in-house. So great market for us. Trash isn’t going anywhere. There’s a lot of recycling
that has to happen. The Chinese issues with
the trade bans and all of that have caused an
issue for our industry in relation to recycling. Most of the recycling that
was generated in the U.S. used to be shipped across to China. China has shut the gate on
that, so now, that’s going to force investment in the
U.S. market in relation to technology, and being able to
recycle those products in-house. So lot of opportunity.>>Well, thank you. We mentioned a little bit
about the trade policies, and, you know, just the ability of
the administration to look at, you know, trade barriers
as they exist in many markets around
the world. You know, one other factor is
the investment climate here, and the regulatory
environment, and the — you know, the administration’s
push on the corporate
tax reform early on. I mean, we had not had
a substantive change in the tax code, you
know, for decades prior to the administration coming in and making significant
improvements there, to make the U.S. much more
competitive in contrast to the international scene. Likewise on the regulation front
— the policy to, you know, eliminate two regulations
for any one on the books. I think commerce is now
up to 22 to 24 regulations that have been eliminated for
every one that’s been created. So the deregulation
trend is significant, and the last element
that you also worked — talked about was workforce. So as you look at all of
those, you know, four factors, you know, the trade,
the investment climate, deregulation, and then the
workforce, maybe just — you know, how do you weigh those
individually for your companies? And, you know, I’m sure
it varies a little bit. Maybe we’ll start,
yeah, with Mark.>>So I think from our
clients’ perspective, the ones that are looking
to relocate to the U.S., or even U.S. companies that maybe have had facilities
overseas and are looking to bring them back here, certainly workforce
has been an issue that they look at very closely. To give you an example, we have
a client that makes cabinets, and they make cabinets in China. There has been an anti-dumping
duty case on cabinets recently. They have been looking to bring
production back to the U.S. for some time, and this
was an additionally — I mean, maybe incentive is the
wrong word, but they are — it’s much more on their
focus at this point. They are looking
at the workforce. They are looking at the fact
that China has been retaliating against U.S. in their own way. So this is, I guess, where
the trade war word comes in. So it makes it difficult
to do business with them. There are other, less-apparent
issues about doing business in China, where maybe
clearing goods through customs may
become more difficult. So that is another area
that they’re looking at, and actually, in — I
go to China quite a bit to help clients on these issues. And over the past year or
so, I have had discussions with them kind of
off-the-record, and I was expecting much
more of a negative take on the trade policy from the
U.S. And the opposite was true, actually, which was
very eye-opening for me. In essence, one of the terms
somebody called it to me is that President Trump is
good for Chinese people, and that was a bit of
an eye-opener for me. And there are various
reasons for that. It have to be careful here
how much into detail I go, but there certainly are seeing
some changes, and then hoping that both sides come
to an agreement, and an agreement could be
beneficial to both sides. So the opening of that
dialogue is, I think, being favorably seen
by certain — not necessarily industry
sectors, but certain individuals
over there. Obviously, there are some
companies that are not doing as well because of this
stance by the administration, but it’s opening up
the dialogue, for sure.>>Dalip?>>Well, we’ve been in this
country for the last 45 years, so we’ve seen regulations
come and regulations go. We have seen taxes increase, and
we have seen taxes get lowered. So we hope that the tax — the lowering of the
tax is permanent. We definitely hope that, and
we also hope that, you know, the regulations that
have been taken away, the deregulation
is also permanent. But the main reason
we are here, again, is the size of the market,
the workforce, the talent pool in the workforce that
we can get out here. So those are the drivers
for which we are here. So, again, going back
to the auto sector, our auto sector has always
been highly, highly regulated, and there’s very little,
I think, commerce can do to deregulate automotive
from the safety standpoint. That’s in the hands of
NHTSA for most part, right? So — but in — to play in that
market, I mean, this is, again, the biggest market in the world,
and you’ve got a great workforce that we have in Michigan. And for us, investing in
that was really what we were looking for.>>Thank you. You know, the one
thing I would say — you know, what is so
gratifying about being part of the Select USA team is
it really is a, you know, one-stop shop, in terms of,
you know — while, you know, commerce may not be able
to, you know, control the — the regulatory, you know, structure in the
automotive sector. The one thing that we can
do is ensure that, you know, NHTSA and others are, you know,
interacting with those investors that are looking to expand,
and often invite, you know, our other agencies to, you
know, discussions like the ones that we’re having today. So that — that’s great. You know, I — just
building on this — so we talked about the
federal-level perspective, but, you know, we also have the
states and the local, you know, outreach, and, you know, their
policies, and permitting. You know, can you walk us
through, you know, what — what you’ve experienced,
perhaps, on a variety of fronts?>>Yeah, sure. So I think states have been very
good about assisting with things like environmental permitting. So if you’re out there
trying to build a factory, you need to realize that
the state has specific rules and laws about how much
emissions you have, about how much capacity
that you’re storing in terms of waste conservation. There’s a multitude of different
things that you just don’t know, right, when you’re
coming into the country, and I think states have
— especially in Ohio, I can speak to that
case specifically. Where you have the director
of the EPA in Ohio working in tandem with the EPA
folks and officials in D.C., sitting down with
your general counsel, sitting down with your
government relations folks, and literally walking you
through and saying, “Okay, to get this filed, you’re
going to need to do X, Y, and Z. This might come up, and
you might get opposition here. But here’s your eight-month
window, and what we’re going
to try to do. And we’re going to try
to make that six months.” Now, for those that have
operated all over the world in different countries, not
every government’s like that. You might file something,
and you don’t hear back. Or you might invest
$100 million, and all of a sudden,
they shut you down. That happens in the real world. Luckily, I think the
environment particularly under the administration
currently has set a tone where, if you’re going to invest, and
you’re going to create jobs, that these kind of
fundamental regulatory bodies at state level will actively
come to the table and work with you about finding a
solution to get something done. And that doesn’t mean they’re
going to bypass current laws, or try to, you know, squeeze
you in under, you know, a condensed kind of manufacturing
base — not at all. Just that they’re
coming to the table, and I found that
particularly helpful in Ohio. The other thing I’ll mention
is workforce, which is — everybody talks about. It’s that one statement you
hear at conferences like this, where no one really
knows what you mean. Here’s what I mean
— recruiting. States are very good
at helping you recruit. If you need to get the
right people into the door, they’ll host job fairs for
you, and they’ll pay for them. They’ll do radio ads,
and they’ll pay for them. They’ll do all of these great
things where you don’t feel like you’re posting an ad
on indeed.com, or LinkedIn, and hoping that you can
hire the right people. They’ll take an active role, or
work with community colleges. This is real. This is real stuff. So I think on those two levels, I’ve actually seen the
state’s been fantastic.>>Just from our point of view,
the current administration and the new tax regulations
and legislation that came in were a driver
behind the timing of us entering the U.S. market,
which was very helpful for us. Regulations — we
didn’t have much trouble with the federal
legislation and regulation. Most of our issues came
about from the state, and more the counties
and the cities. So it delves down that far, and I had our first
board meeting back in Australia a couple
of weeks ago. And they asked me about the
U.S., and I said, “Well, you can identify it this way. You got one country with
50 countries within that, and then another
20 or 30 countries within those 50 countries. Everyone’s off doing
their own thing.” So from our point of view, coming from the Australian
system where everything’s pretty
consistent amongst all the states, coming into
this environment where the regulations and the
legislative environment is left up to those individual states, that’s been the biggest
challenge for us, to understand all of that. Now, we fought through that. We’ve got through a lot of
it, and like Sameer said, you do get a lot of assistance
when you have the right people. So engaging Enterprise Florida
in our process was a key driver in making sure that we were
able to overcome those, and have the right
people, decision-makers in the room at the right time. So our industry is
heavily regulated. As with the automotive industry,
the environment is key, and we need to make sure that
we protect the environment at all costs. So everyone’s eyes are on the
waste industry in relation to — when we collect it,
where does it go? Is it a licensed facility? When we operate landfills,
what’s our life cycle? What’s our 70-year plan
after that landfill closes? How are we going to continue
to protect the environment? And then you’ve got all the new
systems and processes that come in play with waste-to-energy
facilities, and all that new technology that
is better for the environment. So all of those regulations need
to evolve with our industry, and we work very closely with
the Australian government and New Zealand government. And we’ll do exactly the
same here, and put our point across in relation to how we
see our industry going forward. But labor — that’s the biggest
issue we have at the moment, and that comes down to
the fact that, in Florida, where we’re headquartered,
and kicked off our business, we’ve effectively got
zero unemployment. You’ve only got the
people that are wanting to work that are working. Everyone else that is unemployed
is unemployed because they want to be unemployed, and
that is a big challenge, especially with your labor
that’s not highly-educated. You’ve got truck drivers, and
there’s a truck driver shortage in the whole of the
U.S. So we’ve got to bring those people on, and one of the challenges we
face is, in Australian history, even though our insurance
is pretty well zero — we’re a very safe organization. We self-insure in Australia. That counts for nothing here,
so every driver that we bring on has this criteria
that we have to apply that our competitors don’t. So it costs us a lot more to
engage these guys, and make sure that they’re employed
for the right reasons. So labor is our — probably our
number one issue in getting them through the door, and then
going to be to retain them.>>Just expanding on that — so over 400,000 new
manufacturing jobs in the United States over
the last couple of years. You know, we are
indeed, as evidenced by that tremendous growth, a
country that makes things, and, you know, that’s
been our history. But it’s also our
future, and, you know, all of you are contributing
to our manufacturing base in one way or another. If we could just reflect on,
you know, your experiences in manufacturing, and
some of the challenges that you’ve encountered. And, you know, what are
some of the opportunities that perhaps some
in the audience — they want to focus on,
in terms of, you know, courting your next investment?>>I’ll start on that one,
because we’re about to, later this year,
early next year — we’re going to have a
manufacturing facility here in the U.S. We’re very unique
in our field, in the world, in that we manufacture
our own trucks. So we buy the cab chassis
from Mack, and then the body that goes on the back of that
truck is manufactured in-house. So we do that in Australia. We’re going to do
that here as well. We manufacture all of
our bins and compactors, and this Pulp Master system
that — it’s going to evolve. So manufacturing’s going
to be a key part to us, so I’ve got to get my head
around how we’re going to be successful and
get the right people. Again, it comes back to
staffing in our — in my world. So manufacturing
something that — I can talk about the Australian
system, and what we do there, but the U.S. system
— I’m about to embark on that next challenge shortly. So I’ll leave it up to
the other guys to talk about manufacturing here.>>Good. Dalip?>>So I think — so five years
ago, we started in Detroit as — with about six people. Today, we added about 500. So that is the manufacturing
job growth that we have seen within Mahindra Group
in Michigan. Now, if things go according
to plan, I would expect that, you know, our — the total head
count could be as much as 2000 or so in the next three years. So the plans are
pretty aggressive. The challenge that
we have is basically to find the right people. When you are growing that fast, when your head count is
increasing that much, so — in such a short time, I think
the challenge is finding the right people to fill
the right positions. So for that, I think what
we have also done is job training programs. We have instituted that. We definitely work
with the universities. We work with — you
know, so again, it all boils down
to partnerships. Sameer was just talking
about partnering with the local economic
development agency. In our case, we partnered with the Michigan Economic
Development Corporation, MEDC.>>Sure.>>And so, we’ve done — and they’ve done a
tremendous job for us. They’ve given us a tremendous
amount of incentives, training grants, training
programs that have been offered to us, and we have
taken advantage of that. So, effectively, I
think we got incentives of over a million dollars, and
all of it is related to people, and head count, and manpower,
and human power development.>>The one thing,
if I might add — I think one of the major
challenges I’ve seen in manufacturing today is
a lot of the stuff is old. You know, you’re acquiring
a brown field asset, something that hasn’t
been invested in, or capitalized in
a material way. Think about old pipes,
old kind of mills. This is real, okay? So when you’re coming into the
country, you’re like, okay, I want to start a tire
manufacturing business. So you go, and you buy
this mill, and you realize that you have a few challenges. One is, you got to put all this
money in to fix everything, and get it modernized, and then,
two, you need to keep enough of the old staff
there so you know — you have people that know
where the light switches are. But at the same time, you need
to hire people, but the people that you’re hiring
forgot how to use these. So it’s a tricky way to
kind of come up that curve, but there’s so many
opportunities to do it. There’s so many mills around
the country right now that are in need of assistance, whether
you can call them distressed, or in need of capital. I think it’s a wonderful
time for joint ventures. And so, really, I think it’s
about fixing what’s been, for lack of a better word — what hasn’t been
given much attention, and two is keeping the
existing workforce but funneling in new workforce that can all
kind of mesh and work together. It’s just like running
any business, but manufacturing is a
wonderful challenge for a lot of amazing companies, like
the ones sitting here today. And those that are taking it on,
I think, are doing a great job.>>I’d like to add to that,
because from our perspective, we have seen exactly
that same problem. So clients that are currently
sourcing from overseas, China — I’ll give an example —
are more than willing to bring production here. They’re importer clients,
and they’re willing to give U.S. mills — and
this situation I’m thinking about is involving
aluminum industry. They’re willing to buy
from U.S. mills for decades if the U.S. mills can change
or upgrade their lines, and they haven’t
been able to do it. They haven’t had the
capital do it, and they’re — and this is an opportunity
for — in our view, for
investment in upgrading. Because once that happens,
these clients will move here, and they will source
domestically. It’s much cheaper for them
to do that than having to pay for freight, to have the
uncertainty, to deal with, you know, changing,
evolving Chinese regulations. So they would certainly
entertain that. The other area I think
Darrell touched on was labor, and that has been an issue
for some clients as well. And it’s a — I guess a —
you know, to some extent, a good problem to have, because
of the unemployment that is so low, finding the skilled
labor in certain parts of the country to handle some
of that — some of that demand.>>Just building
off of the labor and the workforce
challenges, the administration and the White House led the
Workforce Council that’s co-chaired by Ivanka
Trump and Secretary Ross, and we’ll hear from
Ivanka tomorrow. You know, that Workforce Council
is comprised of, you know, state governors, business
leaders, and of course, the federal government, and, you
know, we’re really examining, you know, concrete
actions that we can take over a short period of time. In reflecting on this high-level
process, are there examples that you can point to
that really, you know, just were so impactful
for you in a state? You mentioned the
community colleges, their ability to
respond quickly. Are there examples that you’d
like to share that really just, you know, blew your socks
away, or encouraged you to make that next leap?>>I’ll defer to you.>>Okay [laughter]. So, again, I mean, when we
work with the universities, and that is with the help of
the state, and when we work with them, and when we get
those kind of tremendous talent, the skill, you know, it
just kind of motivates you into saying, “Okay, we have
come to the right place. Now, how do we kind of continue
this trajectory of investment, growth, and more recruitment?” And that is when you really see
how the dedicated workforce — they are all pulling together. So that is exactly
what we have seen, and that has been
our experience. And so, from my perspective,
it’s basically — we can’t wait to invest more. I mean, I’m sorry. I’m not trying to
sell the U.S. here. I mean, that’s not –>>That’s all right.>>– that is. We are doing that,
but I don’t want to be in-your-face
on that [laughter]. But truly, I mean,
that is really — when we go and try to recruit,
and that is really the — kind of the effect that we have. It’s definitely very motivating.>>Thank you. Any other examples?>>Yeah, I mean, the
— I’ve said it before. I think the one thing is that these state programs have
really good recruiting arms, right? And so, you’re given a person that will help you create job
descriptions, have job fairs, and do all those things. So I think that’s really good,
but it’s not the whole game. And I’ll give you an
example, I think — and Dalip brought
up a good point. The university and
college networks are key. So a really exciting area of the country right now
is a research triangle in North Carolina, right
outside of Raleigh. If you start a company there, you’ll be very happy
for a lot of reasons. One is, wages are
relatively low. It’s becoming a new
OEM-type auto supplier state, and you’re in this heart where
there’s this constant stream of students coming out of
two-year technical programs, and community college
programs, and even universities at the engineering
level that can help you and build your business,
where it’s in your backyard. So I would encourage — if
you’re looking at opportunities to consider not just the support
of those individual counties and states, but look at what —
where you’re doing it, right? If you’re doing it in the
center of 22 community colleges around you, you’re going
to feel comfortable. So it’s always a
business decision as well.>>Quality of place initiatives,
you know, throughout the U.S. — you know, as a former state
economic developer myself, you know, we were once told
by a company, “You know, my workforce first chooses
where they want to live, and then they — where
they want to play, and then where they want
to work, in that order.” If you comment on, you know,
some of that quality of place, it’s just not about the
incentives that you’re given, but you want to retain
your workforce. And you want to, you know, have
that individual that you expend, you know, tremendous
resources to train in your company’s
practices to stay with you. Can you talk about successful
examples of community efforts, and state and local
efforts on that front? So why don’t we start
here with Mark?>>Well, I can give
an example from one of our clients’ perspectives. It’s a Japanese manufacturer
of airbag components, and they decided
to come to Kentucky because of the incentives
the state offered them. It was also the proximity
to auto manufacturers that happened to be in the area. So you had U.S. and also other
Japanese car manufacturers, very, very close proximity. They had a good labor
force, educated labor force that they could draw upon,
and the tax incentives to set up the facilities there. So I don’t know their
personal — you know, the details
of those reasons, but that’s the impression I
had from visiting those plants, and from hearing directly
from the Japanese management on why they settled for
that particular place.>>So with Mahindras, we
have over 30 locations across the U.S. I mean,
we are right from New York to California, and we have —
in Iowa, and then also in Texas. So we cover the length and
breadth of this country. So for us, of course,
the reason we land up in a certain place is
probably because of incentives, probably because of
opportunities there. But not once have we ever
come across a situation where we have problems
recruiting people there, or sending people there, or
having to close down a facility because living conditions
were poor. I mean, it’s always been — it’s
always been great for people to live there, work
there, and the communities that they are in,
they belong in — are always uplifting for them. And so, Mahindra has had
a wonderful experience from that perspective.>>I think visas
are always an issue. If you’re an inbound
investor, and you need to bring in your experienced
staff to come in and help teach people how to use specific polymer
injection equipment, or specific casting —
casters, and you have facilities in Germany, and Mexico,
and India. And you want to bring someone in
for a year just to teach people, government can be
a little difficult. They can — they have
these things called RFEs, request for more evidence. Give me more evidence. Why do you need to
come into the U.S.? And it can be challenging. You’re running a
business, and the people that would help you the
most are your senators and your congressmen. I had a situation where a
client needed to get 40 workers from Germany into the
U.S., and to stabilize — they called it stabilizing
an asset. And we called up their
senator and said, “Sir, we need to get these
40 people in. We’re not asking you
to approve the visas. We’re not asking you to do
that, but just make sure that they’re considered with
deliberate attention, right?” There’s ways to phrase things, and he said, “Sure,
I’ll do that.” Called up USCIS, called
up Homeland, and said, “Guys, get them interviews. Let’s — this is an
important company. They’re trying to do some
great things in my state.” And instead of a three-month, four-month wait,
it took 20 days. So don’t forget to
use these people. There’s so many people
around you that can help you. You just have to know how to
navigate it, and how to do it. But I think visas are
always going to be an issue, no matter what administration
it is. But you need to find your allies that understand what your
goals are, and if your goal is to invest and hire,
you’ll always have allies.>>I can talk to that
on a personal level. The U.S. Consulate in Australia
got my initial visa done in 20 days to get us over
here to commence operations. So we had a lot of support
in relation to that. I’m going through a
process right now — my immigration attorney, Simone’s [assumed spelling]
here, and we’re actually going through that right now for
my permanent residency. And that’s ended up being a
12-month process just to get where we are at the moment. So — but in relation to
the immigration status, I think it’s important that
you have strong policies, and you have strong
legislation around it. But there has to be sensibility around why the people
are coming, and give that selection
criteria the right process, so that you can get
these short-term people in to establish your business. Because without those people,
it’s going to take you twice as long to start paying
the taxes to the government that you want to,
because you haven’t got that experience there. And it takes time to
develop that experience. So that’s probably where
I’ll leave that one.>>You know, it strikes me —
you’re all global companies, or representing, you know,
multi-national companies that are making investments
all over the world. And you’re making it
for different reasons. You know, the experience
that you have — you know, I think it was
apparent to me in meeting with some of the foreign
delegations here today that were led by
the governments. You know, they said, “Gosh,
well, you know, we’re thinking about creating a Select — ”
you know, fill in the blank. “We love, you know,
Select USA so much.” And, you know, it led
me to ask this question. You know, in your experiences with these other global
partners, or competitors, or, you know, like-minded
trading partners, how would you compare the
experience that you’ve had here in expanding, you know,
either through working with a state economic
development corporation or alongside Select
USA, you know, versus that other experience? And what can we take
away from that? What candid advice would you
have for the states in the room, as well as the federal
partners here in the U.S.? Maybe start with, yeah, Mark.>>Well, I think — and I’d like to touch also
on what Sameer said. The connections within
the government, with local officials, with local
government officials have been very important, and I think
this has been a major benefit for our clients, both the
domestic companies doing business overseas, and in
foreign companies as well that come here to invest
and set up facilities. Establishing those local ties
with their members of Congress, their local politicians have
been tremendously helpful for them, so we would
definitely encourage that. And that’s something that
you don’t see everywhere around the world. I mean, that — it is a much
more transparent system here. It’s not — I mean,
obviously connections, and knowing people do
play a part, but maybe not to some extent to the level that
they may play a part overseas in different countries. So here, it is much
more transparent. You do have that access, and
I would encourage companies to take advantage of it. Certainly, our clients
have taken advantage of it through lobbying
efforts, through meetings on the federal level,
on the state level, and within the administration
as well.>>Thank you, Mark.>>So, Ian, I mean,
first of all, that was a loaded
question [laughter]. So instead of giving
specific examples, I think — let me kind of share with
you what a company looks for when we are looking for
a partner like Select USA.>>Sure.>>I think the first thing
is, we want transparency. In any country that we want
to invest in, we just want to make sure that there is a
lot of transparency, and it’s, you know, corruption-free. I mean, all those things
are — it’s very important. The second is accessibility. So we need to reach people. We need to talk to people. We need to develop partnerships. So that ability to develop
partnerships, and that ability to reach out to people,
to people who control many of those — many of the
approval processes — I mean, those —
that is important. I mean, not that we are
looking for a special treatment, but we just need
to state our case. And that accessibility goes all
the way — at least in the U.S., what I’ve seen is,
it goes all the way to a congressional delegation. So you can reach out
to a state senator. You can reach out to
the state congressman or congresswoman,
and state your case. And when I say state your case, I mean you are really
telling your story as to why that investment is going
to be great for that state, and like Sameer said,
you’ve got an ally. Now, they listen to you. They understand you,
and that is the — that’s the other thing that,
you know, a company looks for. Then very importantly,
there’s some sort of certainty. Okay, so we don’t want
to kind of like — again, I mean, Sameer touched
on it, which is we don’t want to send a — submit for — submit an application for
some approval process, and wait for six
months, eight months, and we don’t know
what is happening. Now, sometimes — and I have
encountered this situation, where the authorities
tell you that it’s going to take three months for the
approval process, and six months down the road, you’re
still waiting for it. Now, that is the worst case, because you have probably gone
back to your board of directors, and you have basically
said, “Oh, we’re going to get
approval in three months. Surely, four months,
everything will be done.” So you’ve made that promise, and nothing happens
six months later. It’s not the government
that looks like a fool. It’s you who look like a — looks like a fool in
front of your board. So I think those — so
those are some of the things that we look for, and
what we have found here with Select USA is
exactly all that.>>Thank you. Anything else to add to
— very comprehensive.>>From our perspective,
coming over to the U.S. market, we don’t know what
we don’t know. And what Select USA was able to
do for us was open those doors. It was able to meet with
the delegation from Florida, and get all those doors opened. Through that, we’ve got
great contacts now in L.A. through the guys
from L.A., Texas, and all the other markets. So I was lucky enough to meet with the lieutenant governor
a couple of years ago, and they’re going to assist
us into their state in — with the Pulp Master system. Because it’s a very exciting
sort of process that — they want to reduce the amount
of food waste going to landfill, and this achieves that for them. They’ve got targets
they’ve got to achieve. We’re able to provide a
solution that’s not available in this country at the moment. So Select USA’s been fantastic
in that respect, of allowing us to meet with the appropriate
people we need to meet with on a regular basis. We can pick up the
phone, send an e-mail, and if they don’t know the
answer, they’ll find the answer for us, and put us in touch
with the right people.>>Thank you, Darrell.>>So if I can add
one more thing –>>Yeah, yeah, please.>>– I mean, and actually — because you had asked
such a broad, powerful, loaded question [laughter]. So I think the other thing
is, basically, like, who — we talked about rules
and regulations. Transparent rules
and regulations — they’re simple, simple
to understand, simple to follow through. And I have had an experience — and I need to share
this experience. So you go for an environmental
permit, and the person says, “Well, you’re going to get
this environmental permit.” And after sitting on it for two
months, they say, “You’re going to get this environmental permit
when you get your water permit.” You go to the water permit, and
they say, “Well, gee, I mean, you’re not going to get your
water permit unless you have a drainage permit.” And then you go to the
drainage permit, and they say, “But where’s your
environmental permit? We can’t give you
a drainage permit without an environmental
permit.” So you’re back full-circle. So, I mean, these are things
that, you know, you don’t want to encounter, particularly
as an investor, the last thing you
want to encounter, these kind of headaches. So I think, again, going back,
we have not encountered any of these kind of situations
anywhere in the U.S. And as I said, we have more
than 30 locations here.>>I — you know, I grew up
in the semiconductor industry, so I was in that industry
for quite some time, and we talked a little bit about the world-class
research universities, the innovation environment here. I mean, you are all
innovative companies. You’re looking to, you
know, invest not only in manufacturing, but R&D. Can you talk a little
bit about, you know, what your future outlook here
is on the innovation side, and what’s attractive to you? What sectors are taking off
that you are looking for? Maybe not investing in,
or committing R&D dollars to tomorrow, but, you know,
over the next, you know, three to five years, what
should folks be thinking about as they’re developing
their long-term plans in the audience? So we don’t why start with
Mark on the innovation?>>Well, I think
from our perspective, it has been generally
manufacturing. That’s — we’re seeing a focus on bringing those jobs
back here, and that goes across various industries. So you have — I mentioned
aluminum before, steel. Those industries
in particular — I think that as long as
the mills keep upgrading, that those investments
will come back — those jobs will come back here. But also, on more basic,
you know, commodity levels as well — so it’s not
— what we’re seeing is, it’s not as economical
to produce overseas as it used to be, necessarily. I mean, those places, you
know, in Japan was a source in maybe the ’70s, 80s. Then you had, you know, Korea
come into play, China now, but it’s becoming more
and more expensive to make products
in China as well. So our clients are
definitely taking a look at the opportunities here, across different
industry sectors.>>Good. Thoughts?>>So, absolutely. So U.S. has always been
a cradle of innovation. So — and if you really think
about it, every 25 years, U.S. has completely
overhauled the economic backbone of the country. In the ’50s, it was
automotive manufacturing. In the ’70s, it was computers. In the ’90s, it was
internet, okay? Where are we today? Okay, we are in advanced
manufacturing, robotics. We are in automated driving. We are in electric cars. That is kind of the direction that this economy
is moving towards. So if you want to
be in the forefront of innovative technologies
and innovative economy, U.S. is really the place. It is a frontier for
that kind of innovation.>>Yeah, I think it’s really — for me, I can’t speak
personally, but I’m a little cautious
on the word innovation. I think right now,
people are rebuilding. They’re trying to find
business models that work, and that are profitable. What’s the point of innovating
if you’re not profitable? So that’s the way I look
at it, but, look, I mean, pharmaceuticals, technology, AI,
ITOT — this is all great stuff, and I wish I knew more about it. But I’ll leave it at that.>>Darrell?>>Innovation’s a big
thing in our industry. There’s a lot of automation
happening through recycling, and rather than have 16 people on a line sorting those
plastics, and glass, and everything out, we now
have robots, or blowers, and all sorts of magical
stuff that happens there. But innovation in the
collection side is key. It’s all about safety. So safety innovations for
our drivers, to make sure that they don’t run
a person over, they don’t cause an
injury, cause damage to a person’s property. So our vehicles are all evolving
with the support of companies like Volvo in relation to
identifying that that’s a person in front of our truck. I need to apply the brake. So there’s a lot of
innovation that then stems into the real world, and so
our industry is ripe for it. And we’ll be bringing a lot
of innovation over the course of the next two years
as a business ourselves. So, yeah, very important asset.>>Well, thank you, Darrell. And I know we have to wrap
up here in a few minutes, but I want to leave you
with the opportunity to provide any last
words of wisdom or advice to the group gathered
here today. So let’s start with Mark.>>Well, I think that the
landscape has been changing quite a bit during this —
the last couple of years, and I think the trade
policies have led to kind of a reevaluation of
investment in the U.S., and maybe moving production back into the U.S. We’re
certainly seeing that, and our clients are not
taking it very lightly. They’re taking a careful look
at bringing jobs back here. So we certainly see
that continuing, and I think over the next
couple of years, we were hoping that some of these agreements with foreign countries
are reached and are beneficial
to both sides.>>Thank you. Dalip?>>So, contrary to popular
perception at present, U.S. is the bastion
of free trade and liberal investment policies. So there is no other country
in the world that you are going to come across that —
where the ability to invest, the ability to grow,
and the ability to prosper is completely
unhindered. So that’s — that would
be my closing thought.>>Thank you.>>I’d just say trade and investment are now
tied more closely together than they’ve ever been. I encourage you to look
at it as an opportunity.>>Darrell?>>I think we’ve
got to make sure that the administration
hears what we’re saying, and understand that
there’s a lot of money to come into this country. We need to make sure that it’s
invested in the right spaces, and that where they’re
supporting U.S. jobs at the end of the day. That’s what we’re all here for, is to bring more jobs
into this market.>>Well, thank you for your
candid comments, your advice, and most importantly, thank
you for your investment and your commitment
to, you know, the future of manufacturing, and the services industry
here in the United States. If I could get a big
round of applause for these investors’
incredible advice — thank you.>>Thank you.>>Thank you so much.>>Thank you.>>Thank you.

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