Charlotte, NC – The sixth annual Global Carolina Connections Conference on International Investment in the Carolinas was held in Charlotte on August 22 at Central Piedmont Community College (CPCC). The conference brings together key players to discuss the unique needs facing U.S. subsidiaries of internationally owned companies. This year, it was attended by around 200 international business leaders representing organizations from Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Germany, Hungary, Israel, Italy and the United States, among many others.

The conference began with Charlotte Chamber Chief Growth Officer Keva Walton and CPCC Harris Campus Dean Mary Vickers-Koch welcoming the group and touting the importance of workforce development to the internationally owned companies operating in the region and the impact that such companies have had on the development of workforce programs offered by CPCC.

Next, ROI Research on Investment President and Founder Steven Jast provided an overview of the state of FDI in the Carolinas. Steven noted that over the past five years, employment by foreign companies has risen much faster than overall private-sector employment in the Carolinas and in the U.S. at large. The U.S. remains the number one destination for FDI in the world. And among the states, Steven said South Carolina has the second-largest percentage of its workforce supported by global investment, and North Carolina beats the national average.

The conference also featured several panels. One on Belgian investment in the Carolinas was moderated by Jean-Louis Vanderstraeten, Honorary Consul of Belgium to South Carolina, and Parker Poe partner Michel Vanesse, who is from Belgium. That panel included Consul General of Belgium to the Southeast United States William De Baets, DeSol Power Tiles CEO Paul De Sloover, and Nomaco Vice President of Sales Christophe Theunissen.

Another panel focused on transformative trends in supply chain logistics, with Suzanne Dickerson of the S.C. Council on Competitiveness moderating a discussion among S.C. Ports Authority Director of Strategic Projects Micah Mallace, thyssenkrupp Supply Chain Services Vice President Bob Deheny, and Senator USA COO Ralf Schneider.

The third panel of the day focused on workforce issues facing global companies in the Carolinas. CPCC President Dr. Kandi Deitemeyer moderated that conversation, which featured GOM Americas General Manager David Linford, CPCC STEM Dean Chris Paynter, Groninger USA Managing Director Heiner Dornburg, and Huesker CEO Sven Schroer.

Huesker’s CEO described how valuable it was to take part in the conference and hear about challenges and opportunities in the region for internationally owned businesses.

“It’s important to get that high-level view,” said Sven Schroer. “It is always good to stay up to date on what’s going on in the States. For example, we are very intimately involved in infrastructure construction. This has helped bring me up to speed on what the numbers are, what’s expected over the next couple years.”

The conference also featured a presentation by Karl Konstantin Grasser of Egger Wood Products, which recently established its first U.S. manufacturing facility in North Carolina, and Christopher Chung of the Economic Development Partnership of North Carolina. In addition, Stephen Markwell of JP Morgan Chase and Jon Efken of Bank of America Merrill Lynch provided remarks of trends taking place with corporate payments and global commodities. Amy Thomson of the S.C. Department of Commerce shared an update focused on South Carolina FDI, and Stuart Smith, CEO of Norafin discussed why they chose the Carolinas for their business location in the United States.

There were also extensive networking opportunities, allowing executives and others in the international community to build relationships and find support for their businesses.

“It was a pleasure meeting so many knowledgeable people,” said Paul De Sloover, CEO of DeSol Power Tiles, a manufacturer of solar roof systems. “I typically need to ‘look into the woods’ to find what I need. Here, I can tell you the support came to me. It was like one after another at this conference, so I’m very pleased with that.”

Parker Poe partner Sam Moses said, “The formation of the Global Carolina Connections Conference is a direct result of feedback that my co-founders and I heard from international business executives in the region seeking to learn more about the resources available to global companies who have already located in the Carolinas and want to continue to expand here. These exchanges and the networking that occurs provide the ideal platform to stay informed about the continued importance of FDI to our market. We want to thank all of our attendees, speakers, panelists, partners, and sponsors.”

Oliver Hecking, partner at Rödl & Partner’s Charlotte and Greenville offices, added, “Rödl & Partner has a passion for helping our foreign-owned clients in the Carolinas and beyond learn from others in the area to develop innovative ways to grow. Hosting this conference has been critical in helping make that possible and creating connections among peer business leaders, as well as state, regional, and local public and private organizations.”

The conference’s third co-founder, Global Carolina Communications owner Scott Evan Burgess, said, “Global Carolina Connections continues to grow and thrive as we bring together academic, government, and business leaders for these important discussions. We look forward to returning to South Carolina in 2019 and continuing to build on the momentum we have created.”

Global Carolina Connections is glad to announce that its 7th annual conference will be held in Columbia, South Carolina, on August 21, 2019. More details about this event will be forthcoming in the months ahead.