NATIONAL HARBOR, MD (Erie News Now) -- For ten years, the U.S. Department of Commerce has hosted the SelectUSA investment Summit. This year’s summit is taking place in National Harbor, just outside of the nation’s capital. 

According to SelectUSA, the summit is the highest-profile event in the United States to facilitate business investment by connecting thousands of investors, companies and economic development organizations (EDOs) to make deals happen. 

Local leaders are attending the event this week, looking to share Erie County with the rest of the world. 

“This puts Erie County on the map in a way in which we've never had,” said Erie County Executive Brenton Davis. 

The investment summit is an opportunity for local and state governments to connect with, and appeal to, foreign companies and investors.  

“We have access to the greatest freshwater supply in the world. We have Pennsylvania hardwood timbers. We are the plastics mecca of the world. We have a world class workforce development pipeline. We have low cost of living. We have skilled labor, advanced manufacturing. I mean, the list goes on and on and on,” said Davis, who added that being at the summit and networking are proactive ways to let the world know that Erie County is open for business. 

“This is ultimately about bringing home companies to invest, to create good paying jobs that elevate the economic mobility of the northwest region of Pennsylvania,” said Davis. “For us, that's obviously putting our best foot forward, putting Erie County on the map, having the conversations. If you're not at the table having the discussion, you're on the menu.” 

The Department of Commerce works with U.S. embassies across the globe to bring companies interested in the U.S. market to the annual event. 

“We hope to get in front of these companies that are thinking about investing in the United States and convince them that Pennsylvania ought to be on their shortlist of places to consider,” said Jason Hunt, the Director of International Business Attraction for the PA Department of Community and Economic Development. 

Hunt says there are plenty of benefits to doing business in Pennsylvania. 

“We’re very close to New York City, we’re close to Washington, D.C., the other major population centers on the East Coast, but at a fraction of the cost of actually locating your operation in midtown Manhattan,” said Hunt. 

He says more business benefits every corner of the state. 

“We want foreign companies to bring their money to Pennsylvania rather than to one of our neighboring states and we want them to employ people in Pennsylvania, pay taxes. That's good for state government, but it’s good for communities all across the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania,” said Hunt. "Investment is usually expansive rather than consolidated. When an American company buys another American company, sometimes they’re just after the customer list. But when an international company comes in and sets up a new factory, they’re creating new jobs and they're expanding their global footprint.” 

According to SelectUSA, since the investment summits first started, they have attracted thousands of international companies, and generated over $100 billion in new investment projects and over 85,000 jobs across the United States and its territories.  

Davis says six businesses have come to Erie as a result of last year’s summit alone. 

“We're not doing the same old, same old. When I got elected, I didn't come to play the game. I came to change it. And this is exactly what we need to do. We need to look at the world's economy and we need to connect Erie County to those different industries, these emerging industries,” said Davis.