It may have been a tough year for Europe, but the Netherlands attracted record investment in 2016 from around the world, aided by a global network of foreign recruitment offices like the one operated in Atlanta.
Not counting outside partners, the Netherlands Foreign Investment Agency worked on 227 projects drawing $1.57 billion in investment from international companies worldwide. Eighty-eight projects in the U.S. accounted for more than half of the capital investment, with the Atlanta office working 21 projects netting $286 million, Global Atlanta has learned.
The leading category was European headquarters relocations, followed by sales offices, distribution centers and then factories. The top industries included information technology, life sciences and health and agribusiness.
NFIA Atlanta, which has regional footprint in the Southeast U.S. but works elsewhere too, played a particularly strong role helping recruit four Atlanta-based companies.
FineLine Technologies, which provides web-based retail ticketing, expanded to the city of Bergen op Zoom to reach the European market, and tablet provider Aegex Technologies opened its European headquarters at CIC Rotterdam, the European arm of Cambridge Innovation Center.
Boosters say firms were able to capitalize on their country’s stability and reputation as a “beacon of trust” in an otherwise turbulent yet essential market for many global companies — the 28-member European Union. Like Atlanta, the Netherlands uses its well-connected airport and busy seaports to bolster its case as a regional hub in a single market of 500 million people.
NFIA’s Atlanta office had particular success in reaching out to information technology companies.
“We are excited to welcome companies like Aegex and FineLine Technologies to the Netherlands,” Jan-Emile van Rossum, executive director of NFIA North America, said in a statement to Global Atlanta. “With a highly-educated population, prime logistics network and multiple startup hubs, the Netherlands serves as the gateway to Europe for North American companies.”
Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte made a similar case while visiting Atlanta in 2015 on a trade mission oriented around logistics and financial technology. During that trip, the Atlanta Fed launched a partnership with a payments regulator in the Netherlands, while Dutch aerospace manufacturer Fokker and other firms announced new investments in Georgia.
The 2016 numbers don’t capture the most recent proposed investment in the country by a Georgia giant. AGCO Corp., the Duluth-based tractor and combine manufacturer, said this week it had reached an agreement to purchase the forage division of Dutch dairy robot maker Lely for an undisclosed sum.
NFIA plans to expand its presence in the U.S. and Canada this year.