Indian companies thrive, create jobs in the United States

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Indian companies are creating thousands of jobs in the United States opening both bricks-and-mortar as well as technology companies

Indian companies are here for the long haul – not only investing in greater numbers, but expanding their reach, creating jobs and training American workers. For most it is a continuation of past policies. So, even as they wait and watch for any changes that accompany a new administration, they are honing their message and laying out their priorities before the White House and Capitol Hill. Things look good with a businessman in the White House, say experts and entrepreneurs.

U.S. companies interested in India, and Indian companies already here, are campaigning to present a positive narrative – that Indian companies are not only increasing their investment in this country, they are also training a local American STEM-educated workforce, a need that American higher education institutions have failed to meet despite eight years of the Obama administration pushing Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM).

The key to growing a business in America is committing to a long-term relationship, and adding value for the country, Mani Iyer, president of Mahindra USA Inc., told News India Times. As possibly the largest tractor manufacturer in North America, Mahindra plans to further expand its seven businesses in the country and deepen its commitment, Iyer said.

A report released last month by the Indian Embassy in Washington, D.C., shows 274 Indian companies are operating in 36 states in the U.S.. They have invested close to $15 billion in the American economy ($14,929,595,110), and created nearly 71,000 jobs (70,875). The job numbers do not take into account the subsidiary employment and related businesses created by their investment.

According to a 2015 sample survey carried out by the Confederation of Indian Industry and the consulting firm Grant Thornton, 100 Indian companies in the U.S., had invested $15.36 billion and created 91,000 jobs.

Ron Somers, former head, USIBC.

With President Donald Trump in office, “all the business community in the U.S. is on message about the deepening relationship, and Trump being a businessman is open to this message,” contends Ron Somers, former head of the U.S.-India Business Council, and founder of the consulting firm India First Group.

“A lot of the Indian companies are waiting and watching,” Ridhika Batra, director of the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce-USA, told News India Times.

Ridhika Batra, director of the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce-USA.

The campaign to convince the White House and American policymakers about the “Innovation Ecosystem” that exists between U.S. and India, is well under way, asserts Somers.

“That openness and freedom, that back-and-forth like a tennis match, where every day we are developing and innovating, and energizing (business) – the backbone of that is Democracy,” says Somers. “That is not antithetical to the current administration.” Sumani Dash, head of Confederation of Indian Industry-North America, told News India Times, “There’s certainly been an upward trend – in terms of investment, jobs, and the sector-wise spread of Indian investors, over the years. India is now the fourth fastest-growing source of foreign direct investment in the U.S.,” according to SelectUSA, a Commerce Department wing, she says.

Sumani Dash, head of Confederation of Indian Industry-North America.

However, Dash feels more attention needs to be paid to how Indian companies are not only building tangible assets but are partnering with local communities, universities, and research institutions to advance the American workforce.

One of the best examples of an Indian company becoming part of the community, and generating local jobs, is Mahindra. As part of the “I Make America” campaign, it is involved in promoting several local community initiatives to support American manufacturing jobs and pro-manufacturing policies. Mahindra has created American jobs in Tennessee, Kansas, Pennsylvania, California, Arkansas, and Texas where it is headquartered.

In the past, Iyer has said, “Mahindra is proud of the jobs it supports here and across the United States, and we hope to help elected leaders understand how manufacturing helps form the backbone of the American economy.” Sound like words President Trump could have uttered.

Meanwhile, tech companies like Tata Consultancy Services, Wipro, Infosys, and HCL, have skill-building programs in the U.S., something that is becoming the norm for the nearly 300 Indian companies operating in almost all 50 states in a range of industry sectors including pharma, manufacturing, telecom, financial services, automotives, life sciences, and natural resource extraction, apart from the dominant IT sector.

Rick Rossow, former director of operations, USIBC.

Rick Rossow, former director of operations with the USIBC, and currently Wadhwani Chair in U.S. India Policy Studies at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington, D.C. sees “a deepening and widening of relations,” in business, between the two democracies.

The business environment today is far better than it was 15 years ago when “hundreds” of bills were making their way through state houses to end government outsourcing, Rossow recalls. There are also more “natural reasons” why Indian companies find the U.S. easy to gravitate to today, Rossow says, not least because of the influx of a large diaspora, and the significant number of Indian executives who have studied in the U.S. and have a good sense of how to set up business here.

Somers reels off the names of a string of brick-and-mortar Indian companies apart from Mahindra, that have made America their home and are growing alongside the IT sector, some even helping revive dying industries like coal – Essar buying an American coal company in West Virginia and also in Minnesota; Reliance Corporation becoming one of the biggest investors in natural gas resources along the eastern seaboard; Murugappan buying coking coal assets in Alabama; Welspun Group based in Arkansas, which makes state-of-the-art natural gas pipelines; Tata Group buying 8 O’Clock Coffee; Hinduja buying into auto manufacturing parts; Bharat Forge buying forging company in Michigan; Birla, making the ‘largest’ purchase of potash in neighboring Canada; and of course, Mahindra, Somers notes.

“That’s just the tip of the iceberg,” Somers says. “We have bullish investments in the U.S., bullish investment in India. I’m saying ‘The sky is not falling. The sky is blue.”

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