Foreign Direct Investment (fDi) is a specialty magazine published by the Financial Times group for C-level executives and their professional advisors.
This is not the first time Chicago has received the top honor. This time around, though, the competition was more fierce. The award, which is given by the magazine every two years, combined several different categories into one. When Chicago last won in 2005 and 2006, the city didn’t have to compete globally.
The panel consisted of a variety of judges from around the world with different backgrounds relevant to the study. Judges were selected by fDi editor Courtney Fingar and chosen because of their involvement in inward investment decisions. They had a keen understanding of the North American market and its investment climate.
Todd Malan, CEO of the Organization for International Investment in Washington, also applied his expertise in international business to the study. He has done surveys for site selection and is versed in why and where businesses locate and invest where they do.
The criteria for this award was selected “with particular regard to the factors most likely to encourage inward investment,” fDi research editor Charles Piggott said in an interview with MidwestBusiness.com. There were several different selection factors including:
Each of these factors contained their own set of criteria. Chicago ranked in the top five in all of them and took first place in four. Overall, Toronto came in second behind Chicago followed by Pittsburgh; Atlanta; Guadalajara, Mexico; Baltimore; Montreal; Mexico City; Boston; and Miami.
Judges were given statistical data and a written copy that included descriptions about transportation, school, health-care facilities and universities. Don Holbrook, one of the panel judges and a board member of the International Economic Development Council, looked for credibility after receiving the data.
“I was scoring more severe on who was more valid,” Holbrook said in an interview with MidwestBusiness.com. Judges scored on a 10-point scale. Piggott says the winners in each category scored the most points in that category and the overall winner scored the most points across all seven categories.
Though Chicago was named overall city of the future, it ranked second in cost effectiveness, third in both human resources and quality of life and fifth in business friendliness. The human resources and quality of life criteria both touched upon education.
“Chicago scored well for its attractive housing areas, good hospitals and vibrant cultural life,” Piggott said.
He added: “It also picked up points for its large number of state universities and graduates and the fact that the state is home to three of the world’s top 200 universities. However, the percentage of graduates among the general population is still lower than in many other locations in Canada and the U.S.”
Holbrook offered some suggestions to raise the quality of life in Chicago. He stresses the importance of education and how it’s critical for the city and the country to teach children life skills and how to become involved with the economy. Holbrook says children need to be taught to be self-sufficient and how to engage in the social structure of the world.
Education is a “20th century model for a 21st century problem,” Holbrook said. He says Chicago and other cities across the country need to make education personalized, safe and friendly. Children need to be trained on concepts that are useful and are in conjunction with the business world.
There are many reasons why Chicago stands out from the rest of the country. Tom Bartkoski, director of international business development at World Business Chicago, says location is the most important.
Chicago’s geographic location allows companies to cover their own markets and track other markets across the country as well, Bartkoski said in an interview with MidwestBusiness.com. He added: “It is something a costal city can’t duplicate.” He says Chicago can easily reach markets because of shipping capabilities and air transportation.
In terms of Chicago’s friendliness to business, Bartkoski believes this is subjective. There was only so much information that could be included within the proposals. Chicago did include tax records and employer contribution data. He added: “We would like to improve this ranking the next time around.”
“Chicago has a high-energy economy, a world-class development and investment promotion program, good human resources and quality of life, good infrastructure, a strong track record in attracting inward investment and reasonable real estate, utility and labor costs,” Piggot said.
The announcement of the city of the future award has many benefits for the city. Bartkoski added: “It raises international [interest] coming from a foreign source. It spreads the message of Chicago as a site for foreign investments.”
Bartkoski says the award is positive in terms of rank and competition. Along with alerting an international community, he says it lets a domestic audience know how their city ranks against the rest of the world.
The fDi city of the future award is another honor Chicago can show as it bids for the 2016 Olympics. As Chicago looks to the future, 2009 not only be when the city finds out if it has won the bid but it’ll be the next time fDi submits its city award.