International Economic Development Council reinforces commitment to greater European representation

26 Sep 2012 | News

Washington, DC

The world’s largest membership organisation serving the economic development profession has reinforced its commitment to extending its influence and representation in Europe by announcing the appointment of a leading foreign direct investment expert to its Board.

The International Economic Development Council (IEDC) appointment of Mark O’Connell, CEO of OCO Global, who is recognised as a leading authority on foreign investment, marks a new drive by the body to extend its international influence and broaden its international membership. IEDC say that the appointment is aimed at increasing representation for Investment Promotions Agencies across Europe with the ultimate aim to assist members create more high-quality jobs and generally improve the quality of life in their regions.

Mr O’Connell who is currently interim Director for Investment and Global Operations for UK Trade and Investment is also founder of international consultancy OCO Global which advises clients ranging from the World Bank to Enterprise Florida and has a strong presence throughout Europe. Speaking after his appointment to IEDC, Mark O’Connell, Chief Executive of OCO Global said: “Organisations seeking to attract investors face a major challenge around the shifting sands of source markets, emerging sectors and the nature of investors. In tomorrow’s foreign direct investment landscape investment will come from a new breed of investors in tech sectors from emerging markets with very different business models.

The key challenge in attracting such investment is to understand the drivers of this new breed of investment and shape the location offer to connect with their drivers. IEDC is at the vanguard of the modernising agenda in Economic Development and can be expected to help its members to navigate these changing market conditions” President and CEO of the International Economic Development Council (IEDC) Jeff Finkle said that the appointment served to underscore the Council’s commitment to broadening its international reach. He said: “The appointment of Mr O’Connell to the IEDC board will greatly enhance the international dimension of our work particularly around the many accredited training programmes that we provide to investment agencies throughout the world. In practical terms we believe that we will increase our membership throughout Europe and Mark will play a vital role in this. In addition, OCO Global will play an important role in sharing international best practice which is vital to enhancing standards across investment agencies across the world.”

The International Economic Development Council (IEDC) is the largest network of economic development professionals in the world serving over 4,600 members dedicated to helping economic development professionals create high-quality jobs, develop vibrant communities and improve the quality of life in their regions. It is a challenging time for Investment Promotion Agencies. OCO Global has estimated that there are approximately 10,000 agencies competing for around 14,000 projects on an annual basis.  The proportion of investment coming into Europe has been declining over the recent past.  In 2007/08 western Europe accounted for close to 30% of global inward investment.

This has declined to 20% in 2011/12 in the face of increased competition and economic uncertainty in the European economies.  OCO Global expect a reasonably subdued period of growth in inward investment into western Europe of around 4% per annum.  In this context focus and realism will become ever more critical for investment promotion agencies* OCO Global is a specialist inward investment advisory company, with its headquarters in Belfast and offices in New York, London, and Paris, plus partners in other key markets. OCO Global specialises in trade and investment promotion strategy, organization development and investor targeting services.

OCO Global’s services have helped investment promotion agencies to define their economic policy, strategy and business attraction propositions. Since 2001, OCO Global has successfully delivered over 200 foreign direct investment assignments, actively supporting agencies in the implementation of strategy through provision of training, business intelligence and investor targeting services. *Data gathered from OCO Global Forecasts and FT Intelligence by the Financial Times.