Arizona CEO appointed to federal economic development council

U.S. Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross recently announced that Chris Camacho, President & CEO of the Greater Phoenix Economic Council (GPEC), is one of 25 individuals being appointed to the U.S. Investment Advisory Council (IAC), where he will serve a two-year term.

The IAC works closely with Sec. Ross, who it advises “on the development and implementation of strategies and programs to attract and retain foreign direct investment (FDI) in the United States,” according to the Department of Commerce. FDI can take a number of forms, but particularly refers to the direct expansion or relocation of foreign businesses to the United States.

Many of these formative enterprises need the U.S. market as part of their growth strategy,” Camacho said. “And so, we want to be the beachhead where foreign companies… can come to the United States and have a soft landing.”

According to the US. Department of Commerce’s International Trade Administration, FDI is “critically important to the nation’s continued economic growth and prosperity,” and is directly connected to over 14 million U.S. jobs. Overall, the United States has roughly $4.34 trillion in FDI stock, more than any other country in the world. 

To help continued foreign investments, IAC members make policy recommendations on topics including infrastructure and workforce development programming. Camacho said he hopes to advocate for the importance of the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) as one of the crucial ingredients to increasing and maintaining healthy FDI.

“I do believe that the North American market will ultimately need to compete as one economic region within the future,” he said.

Some particular areas of focus for the IAC, Camacho said, include attracting more advanced manufacturing and technology-related companies to the U.S. The latter could potentially include companies in fast-developing industry sectors like Fintech and blockchain technologies, he said.

“One of the markets we’re doing a lot of work in right now is Israel,” he said. “There’s a tremendous amount of cybersecurity and software capacity in that market, and for them to continue to grow their sales and global connectivity, most of them want to enter the U.S. market.”

Camacho says that it “takes a village” to recruit those types of organizations, and cooperation between national and state entities is all but required. With over a decade of experience working alongside various state agencies to help attract employers to the Valley, Camacho said he hopes to share Arizona’s “best practices” and help guide their application at a national level.

The IAC generally meets quarterly in Washington D.C., and members conduct business throughout the year from their respective communities. The council was formed in 2016, and Camacho is part of its second-ever group of appointees.

“I do feel that the group assembled has a tremendous amount of experience helping the U.S. become more competitive,” Camacho said, “and if I can play a small part in that, I’m honored.”

Nick Serpa

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