We don’t bestow awards for courage in our annual Best to Invest suite of location honors each May. So we couldn’t honor Venezuela’s Juan Guaidó with one. These days, who could be more deserving? It’s just as well, because we have in this issue a Q&A with the troubled country’s opposition leader and president, as recognized by dozens of countries, himself. Conway President Adam Jones-Kelley spent time with Guaidó during a recent trip to the region, resulting in some candid and optimistic insights from this brave leader working to replace chaos with prosperity in his homeland.
We do bestow the Prosperity Cup each May, which recognizes the most competitive state-level economic development office. All such offices in the running had to demonstrate their readiness to win a project like Amazon’s HQ2 in 2018. Just two states had what that contest required … or one, it turns out. Virginia Economic Development Partnership President and CEO Stephen Moret told me that even without HQ2, or the $3 billion Micron Technology expansion, Virginia in 2018 would still have outpaced recent years’ capital investment totals. Key to the HQ2 win was the state’s commitment to high-tech higher education programs and cooperation at every level on the part of Virginians — from state and local authorities to the man on the street. The education investment included $250 million for Virginia Tech’s $1 billion Innovation Campus at National Landing, among others.
The centerpiece of this issue is our Best to Invest cover story, identifying the best countries for establishing new operations or expanding existing ones in 10 global regions. A number of them have their investment promotion agencies to thank in large part for this recognition — see page 85. These and many others on a national and regional basis are this year’s Top IPAs as determined by a panel of location experts.
Prosperity is a local quality, too, not just a statewide or national characteristic. That’s where the Mac Awards come in. These honor local and regional economic development offices that are on the front lines of location decisions large and small. And they all matter, any one of the leaders of these offices will tell you. They have to make a good impression the first time every time a prospect shows up, facilitate getting operational and not drop the ball on the retention side years after the site was chosen.
HQ2 was just one of the Top Deals in North America (and one of three from Amazon alone that will combine to create 33,000 new jobs) recognized in this issue. International Top Deals also are honored. It’s here where you’ll find which locations are considered the best to invest for the projects frequently valued into the billions of dollars.
Till next time,
Mark Arend, Editor in Chief