Florida’s Great Northwest, the regional economic development organization for the Panhandle, was one of only 14 areas in the country selected to participate in this year’s SelectUSA Investment Summit, the highest-profile event in the United States dedicated to promoting foreign direct investment. SelectUSA is a government program led by the U.S. Department of Commerce.
FGNW President and CEO Jennifer Conoley was asked to serve as a participant in a closed door, invitation-only meeting with Secretary of Commerce Gina Raimondo and Deputy Secretary Don Graves. The small-group roundtable focused on the unique challenges and opportunities associated with attracting foreign investment into underserved communities. Conoley represented Northwest Florida, one of only 14 areas invited to attend the session.
“This was a unique opportunity to join in on candid conversations between companies, economic development organizations and federal partners about the challenges facing underserved communities to attract jobs and capital investment,” said Conoley. “Other parts of the country, such as Detroit, Los Angeles, Puerto Rico and Virginia, were represented and I was proud to see Northwest Florida, the only region in Florida, was included in this crucial discussion.”
Through her participation, Conoley brought awareness to the needs of urban and rural underserved communities in Northwest Florida, explored synergies between federal agencies and discussed strategies on how the federal government can best support economic development organizations and communities in the future.
While there are many definitions of underserved communities, SelectUSA uses assesses if a U.S. community is underserved through three criteria: more than 20 percent of the population falls under the poverty line; the unemployment rate is greater than 8.1 percent or more than one standard deviation from the median of 3.2 percent; and 50 percent of households have an income below $50,000.
Conoley was also selected to speak on a panel during one of the information sessions about investment attraction in NWFL.
Florida was one of only four US states to be invited to present to a group of 20 Singaporean companies attending the summit and Conoley spoke about the region during the presentation.
Enterprise Florida was an exhibitor at the event and hosted a Sunshine State Soiree Reception. FGNW participated and gave a few remarks at the event.
In addition, FGNW made numerous direct company contacts and is working on several potential project opportunities for Northwest Florida.