SelectUSA 2022 Preparation: A Visit with Jason Hunt Pennsylvania DECD

Link to podcast found HERE

Transcript to podcast found below:

Bill : Hi and welcome to the next episode of belly to belly and today we’re focused on preparation for select USA 2022. And we’re joined by an from a wonderful friend, Jason hunt from the state of Pennsylvania. He’s part of the business attraction team. Welcome, Jason.

Jason : Hi, Bill. Thanks for having me. It’s great to be here.

Bill : Fantastic. So, you know, the obviously Select USA is a massive event and we have companies coming in from all over the world looking to enter the US, and I know many of them are interested in learning about Pennsylvania and the opportunities there would you mind sharing what your organization does to help companies that are coming into the US and particularly interested in Pennsylvania?

Jason : Sure, so I work for the Pennsylvania Office of International Business Development. That’s a part of our state’s department of community and economic developments. We’re a government agency tasked with Investment Attraction. We also help Pennsylvania companies export their goods and services abroad in Pennsylvania has this dedicated office because international business is a big part of our economy. We have over 5100 foreign owned firms here in Pennsylvania, employing over 300,000 people. Pennsylvania’s products and services traveled to 218 markets around the world. It’s just over 5% of our GDP, value and exports. On the Investment Attraction side we have a network of 12 authorized representatives around the world covering 33 markets, who work with my team here in Harrisburg, our state capitol to help international companies who are looking to expand or to set up new locations in our state. We serve as business advocates and liaisons between these potential foreign investors and various layers of government here in the United States in Pennsylvania. We also provide free services including assistance with research about locations across Pennsylvania, identifying help identifying business sites, introductions to some of our regional and local economic development partners and customized financial assistance. We work with international businesses of all sizes, but I’d say the majority of the companies we encounter tend to be small or mid sized companies who are looking for their first location in the US.

Bill : Oh, that’s fantastic. You provide such great service and you know and obviously, you said right off the top, it’s so great to be back in person. It’s like USA. We’re all sort of so much craving that. Now, why Select USA? Why is that important for Philadelphia to be present there and why are you looking forward to it?

Jason : Sure. So it’s not just Philadelphia, it’s all of Pennsylvania. That’s a common misconception from the outside. Yeah. But yeah, so why do we participate? It’s at the end of the day, it’s to meet people. It’s a great opportunity for us to put Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh all of our communities in front of a large audience of international companies in a wide range of sectors who are looking for opportunity, in addition to those prospective investors. It’s also we also like to use the conference to make connections to consultants and service providers who work with international companies. Because we want them to know that we’re available to assist their clients if they have, you know, clients looking at opportunities in Pennsylvania. And because it’s helpful to pick their brains and see what they’re seeing you they have clients looking at a wide range of states in a wide range of industries and it’s good to get kind of the bigger picture perspective. conversations with them and our counterparts in other US states who are usually all present. Help us to kind of understand how best to position Pennsylvania to attract new investment and see what the neighbors are doing.

Bill : So both the idea that you can kind of meet so many companies that are coming into the US and connect with them and be able to help them and facilitate that, that successful entry, but also the connection to the network, the support network, and also a little bit of competitive intelligence. It sounds like

Jason : Oh, sure. I mean, all 50 states are there you can’t help but see what the others are doing. But yeah, the networking is really the crux of the conference for us. Sure.

Bill : No, that’s great. And, and as you said, You’ve been Pennsylvania’s been participating since the beginning. I think it’s this I believe, the ninth year of Select USA, but then again, thinking of the audience, these are, you know, in some cases, they already have some traction here in the US and they have, you know, experience in the market. As you know, in other cases, this may be their first trip to the US and you know, as you think about, you know, the event itself, and then whether it’s pre events, following events, or even just folks that have time, either pre or post conference. What are some thoughts you have about how companies can get the most out of this, both this visit to select USA and also their visit to the US?

Jason : Sure, select USA has in the past done a lot of spin off events where either before or after, there’s opportunities to examine in detail different parts of the US. I think there’s less of that this year, though. Those are interesting if there happens to be one scheduled in a sector or in a location that’s relevant. I think, maybe next year, we’ll see those come back with a bit more strength. But I think focusing on the main conference, I think there’s probably three things I would I would suggest. One is you know if you’re early in exploring opportunities in the United States, be sure to attend the information sessions. The US Commercial Service, the Department of Commerce, does a good job providing a broad high level understanding of some legal and tax issues that are gonna be relevant all across the United States and will help you to make your plans. Second, I’d suggest using the networking app. The Summit runs a matchmaking app that you can usually get access to a few months out, and you can use that to build a profile and to set meetings. My experience is that you have better meetings. If you build out the profile, provide some information about your company and schedule as many meetings as possible ahead of the time ahead. Of Time. Planning the meetings helps about you and the person you want to meet to be more prepared. And I just, it seems like there’s more follow up from the ones that are planned then from your chance encounters on the exhibit floor. And then the third thing I would suggest just to do your homework and clearly identify what you need. Like any big show the exhibit halls, huge and it’s best to have a plan. There’s lots of consultants and service providers there. So if you have some idea what type of assistance you might need, you know, prioritize accordingly. And then in terms of meeting state or city economic development teams like my office, remember that the United States is a big place. And it makes sense for you to identify ahead of time, which cities or regions or states might make the most sense for you, for your industry for where your customers are, rather than trying to have a conversation with all 50 states. You know, business that makes sense in Pennsylvania may not make as much sense in Puerto Rico. It all just depends on what you’re doing and where you need to be.

Bill : Now that makes complete sense, you know, in thinking about what you do, Jason, you know, one technique I’ve seen and I’m curious about your thoughts and how you would see it, helping or not helping you is I’ve seen it not not so much but but it’s impressed me when I’ve seen it that some companies will create a one page when they come to select USA. That gives a little bit overview about their company, but more is focused on their needs and goals in the US. And that way is there meeting people whether they’re from a state or region or a service provider or any any support entity, those individuals go off more empowered both to directly help them but also to help connect them to to resources is that a valuable tool in I guess, in your experience?

Jason : I think it is. I mean those a lot of people say the leave behinds are becoming a thing of a thing of the past, but I do think they’re helpful when they’re, you know, as you describe kind of a wish list or a priority list. I mean, I went I’m manning our booth. At the Select USA conference. I’m going to meet 50 Maybe more companies each day I’m there and if my notes aren’t good, or if I just can’t remember what you needed, it’s harder for me to help you. So if you can, you know, help me to identify what it is. You need through a leave behind like that, then the follow up just gets easier.

Bill : Yeah, and I guess the thing that I think about too is sometimes you don’t remember everything that you need in certain conversations. So it kind of keeps you on task and if there are multiple people from the same company then everybody’s consistent with those needs to which it’s always good when you’re singing off the same sheet of music. So did that. Well, this has been great, Jason. I so appreciate your time and getting both to get more of a sense of the opportunities in Pennsylvania. And the support the organization provides as well as your great insights about the event and how companies can best leverage it.

Jason : Thanks, Bill. I appreciate the opportunity to chat and to work with you on this and other things and look forward to run an interview at the show.

Bill : Same here. It’s been delightful and looking forward to seeing you soon and to our audience. We’ll put Jason’s information in the description as well as you know, please like and subscribe so you stay in tune to all the great info coming up. Thank you

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