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Hannover Messe
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SEDC and AmericanSouth at Hannover Messe

April saw a historic first for SEDC as it showcased its initiative AmericanSouth at Hannover Messe, the world’s largest industrial trade show, held annually in Hannover, Germany. SEDC developed the initiative to promote the advantages of doing business in the South to foreign companies and investors. The opportunity to carry the message to Hannover Messe dovetailed with SEDC’s focus on increasing Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) across its 17-state footprint. Purchasing the largest exhibit space available, the association invited its members to attend, developed a new marketing brand to anchor its position at the show, and created a new web site and collateral materials.

The AmericanSouth exhibit joined dozens of others in the U.S. Pavilion, including exhibits by organizations from 14 of SEDC’s footprint states. Thirteen SEDC members joined in to promote AmericanSouth. They formed a team that worked aggressively to “cross-fertilize” the opportunity and let other Southern representatives know AmericanSouth was “selling” their states as well. The team referred people to other booths when appropriate and developed more than 80 qualified leads for their organizations. Non-members got to see SEDC in action, promoting the region as a whole and the interests of its individual members.
“Sales and marketing is a relationship building process,” SEDC President Gene Stinson noted. “The communities and organizations that participated in AmericanSouth in Hannover with us had an unmatched opportunity to build new relationships in a widely expanded universe of potential leads.” The organizations participating in American South rated their involvement as being highly beneficial.

Nearly 200,000 visitors attended the week-long event, which featured more than 5,200 exhibitors. For the first time, the U.S. was the official partner of Hannover Messe and President Obama—the first U.S. president to ever attend—was on hand to help open the fair. Using his remarks to promote Select USA, the federal government’s program to encourage foreign direct investment (FDI), the president told attendees that the initiative is “ cutting red tape, streamlining regulations” and making it “even easier for companies like yours to come and build in America.”

AmericanSouth participants had the opportunity to meet with representatives from Select USA and highlight their work in attracting FDI. “The exposure to Select USA and the Department of Commerce gives our members a great resource to help them think about and implement strategies to attract FDI,” SEDC Chairman Chuck Whipple said. “Select USA provides valuable services to help local EDO’s expand their marketing efforts with foreign entities.”

As part of the new marketing platform, SEDC developed a web site——as a critical component of the brand. The site features an overview of the advantages the South offers, as well as links to the organizations participating at Hannover Messe. Moving forward, the site will feature more information on doing business in the region. SEDC is working on capabilities to direct FDI inquiries to its members in communities of interest to the inquirers.

SEDC’s development of AmericanSouth and its participation in Hannover Messe mark a new high point in the association’s efforts on behalf of its members. “Foreign direct investment is an under-explored frontier for many communities and a resource many others can expand their connection to,” Whipple said. “The South should be the global destination of choice for business and that’s the message we carried to Hannover Messe.”