Sen. Bob Corker has teamed up with Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass., to introduce legislation with the intent to attract more foreign investment to the United States.
Both Corker and Kerry are lead sponsors on the Global Investment in American Jobs Act, a bipartisan bill that would expand an existing Department of Commerce report to initiate the first-ever interagency assessment for Congress focused on making America more effective when competing for investment from top international companies.
Corker is hoping it will encourage scenarios similar to ones that have made several companies recently choose to house their American operations in Tennessee.
"Our goal should be for the U.S. to be the very best place in the world to do business, and I'm hopeful this study can provide some insight into what we're doing right, what we're doing wrong and how we can improve," Corker said in a news release. "Tennessee has continued to attract overseas companies like Volkswagen, Nissan, Alstom, Bridgestone Smith & Nephew, and Electrolux [that] have made significant, long-term investments in our state, creating good-paying jobs for Tennesseans and fueling economic development. We want to continue to attract these kids of investments."
According to a recent Chicago Tribune report, American subsidiaries of foreign companies are responsible for employing an estimated 5.3 million workers, or roughly 5 percent of total private sector employment. Roughly 2 million of those jobs are in manufacturing, similar to the recent companies that have located operations in Tennessee.
Despite remaining the No. 1 country for attracting foreign companies, direct international investment in the U.S. dropped 4 percent in 2011. The Tribune quoted Kerry as saying that the need to maintain the country's status as the top attractor for foreign companies is "critical."
"We want to ensure there aren't barriers out there that are preventing more foreign investment from taking place here," he said. "It's as simple as that."
Jonathan Browning, president and CEO of Volkswagen Group of America, which currently employs more than 4,500 Americans, praised the legislation.
"Our story is just one example of how global investment benefits the American economy, as seen by our more than $4 billion commitment to this market, including our $1 billion investment in our manufacturing facility in Tennessee and growth from an initial 2,000 jobs to 3,500 in just over a year," Browning said. "This legislation rightly aims to ensure that the United States is focused on enhancing its ability to attract and retain investment from around the world, which is imperative for the health of the U.S. economy and continued job creation.”
Along with Corker and Kerry, co-sponsors of the bill included Sens. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio; Scott Brown, R-Mass.; Saxby Chambliss, R-Ga.; and Jeff Sessions, R-Ala.
A companion bill for the House of Representatives is in the works.