Strategies for Globally Competitive Cities

Strategies for Globally Competitive Cities: Local Roles in Foreign Direct Investment provides local elected officials, practitioners and regional stakeholders with resources, practical strategies and promising practices on foreign direct investment (FDI) and international trade.   

Foreign direct investment (FDI) and international trade, have vast potential to strengthen the economic capacity and quality of life in cities and regions across the country.  FDI and trade are also two areas in which local leaders can have a true impact in their roles as catalysts, conveners and connectors. Many of the most effective local actions require strategic rethinking of existing economic development efforts and leveraging collaborative relationships with regional and private sector stakeholders. These functions lie squarely within the work of local governments and their partners in cities of all sizes.

Download the Full Report
I Executive Summary
II Foreign Direct Investment Section
III International Trade Section


The Strategies for Globally Competitive Cities guide targets specific action steps for developing an effective FDI strategy and approaches to international trade, including:

Foreign Direct Investment

  • Identify assets and key sectors;
  • Create regional awareness;
  • Identify investor leads;
  • Facilitate and prepare; and
  • Monitor and provide aftercare.     

International Trade:

  • Support small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) by identifying partners and resources, and creating channels for businesses to access these resources.
  • Support international students at local post-secondary education institutions through partnerships and programs that foster positive relationships between international students and the community

As with most critical community issues, it is the work of cities and the innovations of those at the grassroots level, that drive change. Leaders are emerging in cities and towns across the country  and are helping to create a local culture favorable to foreign investment and global trade.   It is our hope that the strategies, resources and examples presented in this guide provide local officials the impetus needed create local competitiveness through global linkages.

The guide draws on lessons learned from NLC's Leadership Academy on Local Economic Competitiveness in a Global Era, which brought together teams of local elected officials, staff and key stakeholders with experts from all levels of government, academic and business sectors to discuss critical opportunities and challenges of FDI and international trade and to showcase promising practices from cities and regions across the country.