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US praises Tata Steel for creating jobs in America

Last updated on: August 26, 2011 16:20 IST

US praises Tata Steel for creating jobs in America

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Aziz Haniffa in Washington


The Obama administration is appreciative of the investment made by Indian-owned multinationals to create new jobs in the United States as is evident from the visit of Acting United States Secretary of Commerce Rebecca Blank to Thomas Steel Strip, a Warren, Ohio-based Tata Steel unit.

Blank met with the management and the employees of the company during her visit on August 25, highlighting the capacity of foreign direct investment to create jobs and economic growth in the US.

"It's a story worth listening to, a story that needs more characters like Tata Steel," Blank said after a tour of Thomas Steel Strip Corporation.

Thomas Steel Strip produces electroplated cold-rolled strip used in the casings of consumer batteries, automotive parts and other applications.

Speaking on the occasion, Blank said, "In order to create all the jobs we need, we have to attract more businesses to our shores and do more to keep great US firms here."

"That's why SelectUSA was created. It's the first government-wide initiative to attract and retain new business investment -- investment such as Tata Steel --- and the jobs that come with it, in the United States. SelectUSA is vital to help more businesses grow and create long-lasting economic value in the US," she said.

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Photographs: Reuters
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Launched in June, SelectUSA was created by Executive Order in direct response to concerns the Obama administration has heard from the business community. In addition to its work removing federal-level barriers to foreign investment, SelectUSA also brings together information on US government programmes and services available to companies looking to invest in America in one, easy-to-access location, supported by a comprehensive website at www.SelectUSA.com.

The website also provides snapshots of the competitive landscape in major US industries and a direct line to state and local economic development agencies.

"In order to create all the jobs we need, we have to attract more businesses like Tata to our shores and do more to keep great US firms here," Blank said.

"Today, we have $2.3 trillion of foreign direct investment in America. And foreign firms that locate in the US are more likely to export and typically pay their workers higher wages on average," she said.

"This foreign investment is supporting more than 5 million jobs throughout the 50 US states, including those right here at Thomas Steel Strip. That's why we want to attract more firms, such as Tata, to America," Blank said.

"It's easy to see why they would want to be here. The American workforce is one of the best educated, most productive and most innovative in the world," she said.

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Photographs: Reuters
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After the tour, Blank discussed the importance of strengthening America's education, infrastructure and innovation capacity as ways to rebuild its economic foundations, create jobs and enhance global competitiveness.

Thomas Steel Strip has production operations in 26 countries and over 81,000 employees globally. Tata Steel is a part of the Tata Group of Companies, which includes 12 companies and more than 22,000 employees in the US and Canada alone.

Tata's diverse operations in the United States include mining, call centers, technology consulting, steel manufacturing, coffee and tea production and sales, luxury hotels and automobiles.

In Ohio, approximately 1,300 people are employed by Tata companies, including Tata Consultancy Services which has a software delivery center in Milford, Ohio; Tata Business Support Services, where staff work at a Reno, Ohio contact centre; and Tata Technologies, which carries out engineering and design work for automotive, manufacturing and aerospace industries.

Thomas Steel Strip president and chief executive officer William Boyd, a 25-year steel industry veteran whose work experience has included British Steel and then Corus, which was acquired by Tata in March 2007, said, "We are grateful that Acting Secretary Blank decided to visit our plant and speak with our employees and I think Tata Steel's obvious commitment to Thomas Steel Strip for its long-term future as well as Tata's commitment to the local communities here in Warren, Youngstown and around the country makes us the perfect choice."

"The investments that Tata Steel and other Tata companies have made in the US are indicative of the potential in this market for non-US companies who recognize the opportunity that exists in both the US manufacturing and service sectors," he said.

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Boyd declared, "The United States is the most resilient and dynamic economy in the world and neither Thomas Steel nor Tata is alone in their recognition of the potential for investment here."

Later in an interview with India Abroad, Boyd noted that "this is the first visit of a senior cabinet level official to any of the Tata Group companies operating in the United States."

Asked how this high-powered visit came about, Boyd said, 'The point of contact was the general manager of the Tata Group of Companies in the US-Kapil Sharma," based in Washington,DC and a former senior Congressional staffer, who had apparently used his contacts and connections to facilitate the visit and give the Tata company a major boost.

Boyd said that Blank was at the plant, which is spread over 170 acres for over and hour "and we showed her the scale of the operation and we also showed her an aerial photograph of the entire plant and described the production process."

He said this particular plant had been acquired by Tata at the same time as they acquired the whole of the Corus Steel Group in March 2007.

Boyd said, Blank's visit necessarily "was to highlight the benefits of making the United States an attractive business environment, a business destination for foreign direct investment and I believe it was to demonstrate and illustrate that foreign direct investment far from being a threat, can be a very positive influence in terms of improving the economic situation and very importantly about sustaining and creating jobs."


Photographs: Reuters
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