Foreign companies that invest in regional economies can often bring innovative technologies and pioneering business practices. That technology transfer has a multiplier effect, boosting the efficiency of local businesses and fostering a culture of creativity.
Prince William County Department of Economic Development and Tourism piloted the department’s first strategic international business attraction program in September 2023, geared at two targeted industries: advanced, smart manufacturing as well as life sciences and biotechnology.
"Most of the other jurisdictions in the Northern Virginia region have programs that support market missions around specific industry sector needs not only across the nation, but also around the world,” says Christina Winn, executive director. “As our team worked with the LPGA on the Solheim Cup 2023 in southern Spain, we saw an opportunity to build relationships for future business development in our interconnected ecosystems."
After an RFQ and competitive interview process, the department chose bGlobal Consulting to manage the market logistics and secure meetings with prospective clients. After identifying more than 140 qualified companies in the targeted industries, bGlobal Consulting organized and hosted 24 virtual meetings for a cross-departmental business development team.
Touching Down in Spain
The Prince William County team arrived in-person in Madrid, Spain on Tuesday, September 19 and spent the following 10 days managing 17 in-person meetings with prospective companies in target industry sectors.
"By using consultants who understood the environment, our meetings were curated and tailored to what is important to Prince William County and our region,” says Nicole Smith, director of policy and incentives. “We had already met our prospects in the initial meeting before leaving, so we were primed with information and ready to discuss what our potential clients would want with a location in the United States."
In Madrid, the team met with smart manufacturing companies looking to identify U.S.-based partners for future research and development collaborations.
Regions along the Mediterranean coast such as Andalusia and Barcelona have a higher concentration of life sciences companies than other regions in Spain, so the team headed south to the 2023 Solheim Cup in Málaga for the next group of meetings.
After the Solheim Cup concluded, the team then traveled to Barcelona to participate in BIOSPAIN, one of the largest international biotechnology events in southern Europe. The team met with companies looking for wet lab space as well as R&D capacity with proximity to Washington, D.C.
"We had several meetings with immediate follow-up," says Helena Kondow, business development manager. "Usually these types of relationships take a longer time to develop, but because we had already met virtually and then had an opportunity to get to really know people at the Solheim Cup, we could then host life sciences companies and have additional meetings in Barcelona."
Keeping the Connections
While the mission has concluded, the work has just begun. In addition to taking meetings since leaving the country, the bGlobal Consulting team will work with the department to bring a delegation from Spain to Prince William County this summer.
"In a world where connectivity is key, embracing foreign direct investment is not just an option; it's a strategic imperative for regional prosperity," says Winn. "We are proud that this first market mission took a connection-first approach and put us in front of the companies who understand our offerings."