Obama pledges foreign investment push

President Obama said Thursday the United States would intensify efforts to recruit foreign investments to the United States, declaring to executives and financiers that "when you bet on America, that bet pays off."

Speaking at the inaugural SelectUSA Investment Summit in Washington, Obama said that the federal government would take a greater role in attracting capital from foreign countries. 

"As a country, we don't always make our case in a coordinated way that links our teams overseas to the right officials in Washington," Obama said.

Obama said that officials from the Commerce and State departments would begin working together to provide international investors a single point of contact who could help them navigate the myriad of federal, state, and local rules that regulate business in the United States. 

"This is a big country and for a lot of foreign investors, it may be sometimes hard to navigate and figure out what might fit the needs of your company," Obama said.

He also announced efforts to help local governments and regional partnerships in the U.S. "up their game" by giving them access to attract investment.

The White House has said it hopes that by bringing disparate governments and agencies under one roof, the U.S. can level the playing field with foreign competitors, whose smaller and more streamlined governments sometimes beat out American companies seeking investors.

The president also used the meeting to chastise Congress over the recent government shutdown and budget crisis.

Obama said that part of the effort to attract international investors would be "getting beyond gridlock and some of the manufactured crises that are coming out of Washington."

He also used the meeting to call again on the House to take up comprehensive immigration reform.

"We've got to fix a broken immigration system so we are welcoming more talented entrepreneurs from around the world," Obama said.

And the president urged lawmakers to expand the funding for the SelectUSA Investment initiative.

The White House has said that the joint effort between federal officials would align work between the Commerce and State departments in 32 important nations that represent more than 90 percent of foreign investments. 

Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker said Wednesday the effort is aimed at attracting foreign firms that are "looking to the United States for their next big investment."

"We're putting everyone under one roof for the first time," Pritzker said.

Vicki Needham contributed.

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