Gov. Terry Branstad  today was named the Foreign Direct Investment Politician of the Year during the 10th Annual World Forum for Foreign Direct Investment being held in Shanghai, China. The award caps a couple of years that have been marked by some landmark billion-dollar economic development deals by Branstad's administration and equally eye-popping multimillion-dollar financial incentives.  


The international award, presented by Site Selection magazine and the Foreign Direct Investment Association, recognizes Branstad's "achievement and excellence in the FDI arena in 2012/13," the association said.  Nominations from around the world were accepted and evaluated during the fall by a panel of distinguished global site consultants and the editors of Site Selection magazine.


"As the governor of Iowa, I have the tremendous opportunity to promote our state, our people and our strong resources to a world market," Branstad said in a release. "This award gives Iowa a prominent place on the world stage, and is an honor in which all Iowans can take pride."


Additionally, one of the state's largest economic development projects, a $1.4 billion fertilizer plant announced in September 2011 by a subsidiary of Egypt-based Orascom Construction Industries, was named the No. 2 Deal of the Year by the international association. The Iowa Economic Development Authority approved $110 million in loans, tax credits, job training funds and transportation improvements to land the project, and Lee County approved property tax incentives valued at about $130 million. The plant is expected to begin operating in mid-2015.


"Investment promotion agencies and political leaders recognized by these awards signify best practices in the world of foreign direct investment," said Mark Arend, editor-in-chief of Site Selection, said in a release. Iowa was not among the 10 states named by the magazine last week as the top states for business climate in 2013; Georgia topped that list.  


Lt. Gov. Kim Reynolds, who is attending the world forum, was the featured speaker on the opening panel of the forum to promote Iowa and the opportunities for direct economic investment to an audience of international leaders.


"This forum is a tremendous opportunity to meet face-to-face with key economic and industry leaders to have an open dialogue on economic prospects that would benefit the state and people of Iowa," Reynolds said in a release. "As I talk to business leaders from Europe or from Asia, they have all heard of the great things we are doing in Iowa, and they want to learn more about the steps we are taking as a state to recruit companies, grow our state economy and create careers for Iowans."


Since January 2011, the IEDA has assisted foreign direct investment projects that are expected to create or retain nearly 1,000 jobs and result in capital investment in Iowa of almost $2 billion. Other top foreign direct investment projects in the past two years include investments by Valent Biosciences, CJ Bio America, Danisco US Inc., Bridgestone Americas Tires and Hipra USA.