Site Selection: Where Foreign Companies Enter the U.S. Market

In October 2018, Governor Mike Parson underscored Missouri’s commitment to attracting foreign investment by signing the state’s first Open Investment Policy statement. It notes that Missouri’s economy is stronger because of its successful attraction of foreign direct investment and reaffirms the state’s commitment to ensuring equitable treatment for international companies that set up operations in the state.

Companies headquartered in Italy, the Netherlands, Japan and Brazil are some recent investors in Missouri. They are among more than 720 international employers in the state. Combined, they employ 144,000 workers, 48 percent of which are in the manufacturing sector, according to 2020 data from Global Business Alliance. Companies based in the United Kingdom, Germany, Canada, Japan and France supply the most foreign direct investment (FDI) jobs in the state. And FDI employment grew 44 percent from 2013 to 2018, whereas overall employment in Missouri grew 7 percent in that period.

One example of ongoing FDI in Missouri is Kawasaki Motors Manufacturing Corp., U.S.A., a division of the Japanese conglomerate. The company announced plans to expand and invest in Missouri, adding an additional shift and three assembly lines at its facility in Maryville. The company plans to add one line to the first shift, while two others will begin for the second shift, creating an additional 110 jobs. Kawasaki opened the Maryville plant in 1989. It had one assembly line producing a small engine for walk behind lawn mowers and employed a team of 150 employees. The Missouri plant has expanded more than a dozen times, and currently employs more than 850 people. The Maryville plant has become the main manufacturer of general-purpose engines worldwide for their parent company, Kawasaki Heavy Industries.

“As our capacity need grows, so does the need for additional workforce,” said Anita Coulter, Vice President of Operations. “Northwest Missouri has provided the kind of workforce necessary to produce a quality product that has our customers requesting more. However, with the state of our world today, the safety of our employees has to come first.”

Kawasaki noted that the additional assembly lines on second shift will not only allow Kawasaki to continue social distancing efforts for employees’ safety, but also can be another way to help parents navigate the uncertainty of school or classroom closures coupled with online learning and remain employed.

Another FDI success story is WEG Transformers USA, a subsidiary of Brazil-based WEG Industries. WEG is investing in a new facility in Washington, Missouri. The 147,000-sq.-ft. facility will be WEG’s third factory in Washington, on the western outskirts of St. Louis. It will manufacture distribution transformers, which are placed in neighborhoods. WEG also plans to upgrade an existing plant, adding capacity for transformers used at utility substations and renewable-energy facilities. “We see the market right now in the U.S. as good,” said WEG General Manager Phillip James. “We needed to expand our capacity in Washington to meet our customers’ needs.”

See the full article on FDI in Missouri from the Site Selection team here.

What Next?