Fairfield County a Mecca for Foreign Investment

Jun 20, 2014

Fairfield County topped the national averages, with 13 percent of jobs coming from overseas employers.

Fairfield County had the highest proportion of employment provided by foreign-owned companies of any metro region in the country. The figures came in a new study on the impact of overseas investment in the U.S.

The Brookings Institution took a look at how foreign owned companies contribute to the U.S. economy, and how many jobs they provide in cities around the nation. The study finds that they directly employ 5.6 million workers here. In the average metro region, 5.5 percent of all private sector jobs are in foreign owned companies. 

How Fairfield County's foreign-owned investment breaks down by industry
Credit Brookings Institution

Fairfield County topped the national averages, though, with a full 13 percent of jobs -- 50,690 -- coming from overseas employers. Co-author of the report Kenan Fikri said that tells a story about the globalization of finance over the past two decades. "Fairfield County is home to probably the largest concentration of financial and managerial talent in the country," he said. "It isn’t just commodities brokers and stock traders and hedge fund managers who are locating in Stamford, it’s also the head office functions for U.S. subsidiaries of several large foreign-owned enterprises, primarily out of Europe."

Hartford ranked 18th, and New Haven 64th, in the share of private employment provided by foreign-owned companies, with grocery stores -- the Dutch-owned Stop & Shop -- leading the way. Insurance companies and metalwork machinery firms also accounted for a significant proportion of those jobs.

Fikri said it is important to recognize the contribution of foreign investment. "It’s increasingly on the radar of economic developers and of city leaders looking to grow their economies in a post-recession world, in which the economic development model is no longer consumption oriented," he said. "It’s no longer Starbucks and stadia and housing. It’s more globally engaged, it’s more productive, and it’s more innovative."

The report recommends that cities look to strengthen the fundamentals of their economies, like infrastructure and workforce training, as a way to attract foreign investment.