With a new office prioritizing international collaboration, the National Governors Association is looking to connect governors with international leaders as a way to boost foreign investment in their states.
The National Governors Association is prioritizing international cooperation and partnerships with the opening of a new office called NGA Global.
“We had some international offerings before, but we didn’t really have a robust offering that was quite as far reaching and extensive,” said NGA’s Chief Strategic Officer Tiffany Shackelford, who will lead the new office. “The leadership in NGA that’s been in place for the last couple of years really look at global and international as a priority.”
The overall objective of the office, according to a press release, is to provide governors opportunities for collaboration with their counterparts around the world, including heads of state, thought leaders, and business executives.
“What we are doing right now is gathering information to put groups together that really work to have economic development on both sides,” Shackelford said. “The states have unique offerings; they need to find the unique partner abroad that really works for them.”
According to Shackelford, there is huge interest from both U.S. governors and international leaders—and with that, huge economic investment potential to tap into.
“We’re hearing from international leaders from almost every end of the globe—South Korea, West Africa, the UAE, Europe, South America,” Shackelford said. “I can’t think of a place that we’re not hearing from.”
And she said NGA is not only receiving regional requests, but also issue-based requests from governors with an interest in infrastructure projects, on-the-job training programs, innovation, and entrepreneurship.
NGA CEO Scott Pattison told The Hill that he’s hopeful this international focus will also meet a need that its members have identified.
“The governors for a while have been telling me that they do so much in terms of economic development, and a lot of that involves international interaction,” he said. “…The more they’re getting to know each other and have this interaction, the governors think it’s really beneficial for their economic development, for encouraging more investment and trade that benefits the residents of their states.”
NGA opened the new office prior to its Winter Meeting, which took place in late February in Washington, DC, and had an international focus. Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull delivered the opening keynote address, and Ghana President Nana Akufo-Addo was the first African leader to address the meeting.
Shackelford said NGA Global has more events in the works. In May, a summit will bring Canadian, Mexican, and U.S. leaders together. In addition, there are also plans to add daylong global programming to existing meetings.
“We’ll also be starting VIP roundtables where we bring together leaders in business to talk about possibilities and make connections,” Shackelford said. “We have [trips] planned to Japan and Brussels. [And] we’re partnering with some great groups as well as doing some of our own custom programming.”
Shackelford believes that all of these efforts will help increase the potential for collaboration.
“We’re able to utilize the smarts of the other organizations often for these programs,” she said. “And that’s an effective way to do it so everyone can come together to have the conversations [they] need to have.”
Editor’s note: An earlier version of this article misspelled the name of Tiffany Shackelford. We regret the error.