THE BLOG

Businesses From Across America Are Investing in Britain

08/06/2014 10:22 am ET | Updated Oct 06, 2014

As we at the Embassy are very fond of repeating, Britain and the USA do a huge amount of business together. Perhaps that's what you would expect from two of the largest, most advanced and most open economies in the world. But you needn't take my word for it: The investment numbers for 2013-14 are in, and they are impressive.

Between April 2013 and March of this year, American companies started over 500 new investment projects in the UK, creating or safeguarding more than 32,000 jobs. That adds to an investment relationship that's already worth around $1 trillion (yes, that's trillion with a "T"), and is responsible for 2 million jobs, spread evenly between the two countries.

Where in the U.S. does all that investment come from? Business in the Northeast has long been close to the UK -- so much so, in fact, that 200 years ago, around the War of 1812, some New England merchants even advocated secession from the U.S. so that they could carry on trading with Britain!

Nowadays, though, investment pours into the UK from all over the U.S. Take Colorado, for example. I just got back from hiking and camping in the Centennial State's exquisite Rocky Mountains National Park. When you're standing on top of the world, it can be difficult to believe that there's anything out there besides blue skies and stunning mountain vistas. But as well as being breathtakingly beautiful, Colorado is also a powerhouse when it comes to investing in the UK.

In 2013-14, UK Trade & Investment (UKTI) -- the government department tasked with bringing quality investment to the UK -- helped Colorado businesses start five new projects in Britain, in sectors ranging from food and drink to information technology. One of the largest of these was from the engineering firm CH2M Hill, based in the Denver suburbs, which announced an investment of over $80 million in its UK operations.

CH2M is no stranger to the UK, having been one of the main contractors in building the fantastic venues for the London 2012 Olympics. Its new investment will create 500 engineering jobs and 60 apprenticeships. Together, those workers will help CH2M tackle some of Britain's biggest infrastructure challenges, from high-speed rail to nuclear decommissioning. No wonder CH2M is feeling good about its UK business: When Denver mayor Michael Hancock visited the UK in April, the company held a reception for him at the top of one of London's most iconic skyscrapers, the so-called Gherkin.

I should add that UK firms are just as keen to do business in Colorado: British investment there supports over 13,000 jobs across industries from mining to aerospace.

For a number of years now, Britain has been Europe's most popular destination for inward investment, attracting more projects than any other country, including Germany, France and Spain (actually, in 2013-14 we received more projects than France and Spain put together, but let's not get too big-headed). Some of these projects came from overseas companies with long track-records of doing business in the UK, while others involved firms entirely new to our shores.

Why do they come? At the risk of stating the obvious, because the UK is a terrific place to do business. We have one of the world's most highly skilled and flexible workforces. The World Bank puts us in the top 10 for ease of doing business, and number one for ease of getting credit. Our corporate tax system is the most competitive in the G20. Most importantly, as we seek to rebalance our economy and rejuvenate our infrastructure, there are plenty of opportunities to go around.

Speaking of opportunities, if you're thinking about investing in the UK, we'd love to hear from you! For more information, get in touch with the folks at UKTI, who will be happy to help.

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