Reports

Foreign Direct Investment

Foreign Direct Investment Report - 2023

A report on foreign direct investment (FDI) that uncovers the depths of economic engagement and activity that Northern Virginia has with the world.  Published October 31, 2023.  A one-pager infographic showcases key highlights of the report.

Northern Virginia (NOVA),­ adjacent to the vast Executive Branch of the US (United States) government and foreign embassies of all US trading partners, is a focal point in world commerce and trade. As the birthplace of the Internet, and part of the sixth largest US metropolitan area, NOVA is a powerhouse in the US economy. 

Despite strong national-level and state-level statistics and reporting that reflect FDI’s effects, prior to this study there was very little that was understood about Northern Virginia’s economic engagement with the world. This is especially the case with the job-generating and revenue creating effects of foreign investment at the local level.  The FDI study found that foreign owned business establishments in Northern Virginia have their global headquarters or ownership in 67 countries.  A corresponding map highlights the countries and their direct economic contributions.

International business is vital to Northern Virginia’s economy. It is important to understand the effects of FOEs more clearly on job creation and salaries in Northern Virginia and within each jurisdiction. The analysis of FDI strengthens Northern Virginia’s economic development efforts to engage internationally in a purposeful, coordinated, and strategic fashion. Creating purposeful and outcome-driven regional engagement abroad that leads to increased FDI in Northern Virginia can play an important role in the region’s short- and long-term economic recovery plans and diversify economic development strategies that are less dependent on the federal government. More formal and strategic outreach internationally through data-driven analysis has the potential to attract greater foreign investment to Northern Virginia.

Formally tracking the effects of FDI at the local level in Northern Virginia also has the potential to stimulate the tracking and benchmarking, and ultimately more strategic planning, of the region’s global trade and tourism activities. Northern Virginia is home to the three largest recipients of tourism, sizeable numbers of which come from overseas. Tracking and reacting strategically to these and other global economic phenomena at the local level will be an important boost for the region’s economic recovery programs.

Strategic International Ties at the Local & Regional Level: The Case of Northern Virginia

Report Cover Opens in new windowLocal governments around the world face similar challenges like climate change, public safety, economic development and infrastructure revitalization. By looking beyond country borders for strategies and solutions through global engagement with other local governments, communities and regions may find a way to prosper and strive.


NVRC’s 21-year relationship with the region of Stuttgart stands out as a potential model for transatlantic relations at the local and regional level. Partnerships like this prioritize transfers and applications of policy and technical innovations from abroad towards outcomes that benefit Northern Virginia’s communities economically, environmentally and socially.


In a policy paper for the Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung USA, authors Dr. Dale Medearis (NVRC) and Ambassador Richard Kauzlarich (George Mason University, Schar School for Public Policy) point out the current challenges local governments in the U.S. confront when trying to work internationally and ways in which NVRC’s model might inform potential application by other local governments in the U.S. and Europe.

NVRC was pleased to participate in a webinar sponsored by the Adenauer Foundation with our colleagues in Stuttgart Region. You can view the video below of that conversation.

map highlights the countriesreport