'Always make critical considerations'
  • Internationalizing

NOM FDI 'Always make critical trade-offs'

Of course we would like a thriving economy in the Northern Netherlands, but less and less at the expense of other important values. The increasing focus on social themes such as sustainability affects which business activity we do or do not welcome. It is up to the Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) team to bring responsible companies here.

With acquisitions, NOM's value creation model is always in the back of our minds. 'We put our energy into promising leads with which we can strengthen the Northern Netherlands,' says Sander Oosterhof, the leader of the FDI team. 'There are so many wonderful companies that we would like to have in our region and that we definitely have something to offer here. Our team always has its ears and eyes open and we move proactively with developments in the market and society. For example, we have an increasing focus on companies that can contribute to a circular economy, while we are more cautious about companies that are burdensome to the environment or society.'


The approach of primarily acquiring responsible companies can theoretically lead to dilemmas. Sander cites as a fictitious example an international clothing or furniture chain. 'Suppose such a company wants to set up a large distribution center in the northern Netherlands. Then we initially see great opportunities, because this company will make investments in the region and also create a considerable number of jobs. But if, on closer inspection, it turns out that such a chain produces very cheaply in countries where working conditions or the environment are not taken very seriously, then the opportunities for our region take on a nasty connotation.

'It should be clear that we don't want to bring companies to the Northern Netherlands that have a blemish on them,' Sander emphasizes. 'That is why it is so important from FDI to look beyond the shop window and always make critical considerations based on research. Especially with leads that are questionable. Fortunately, in practice we hardly ever have to deal with this kind of dilemma, but we are always aware that as NOM we have a responsibility. We work with public money and are also committed to a sustainable, robust economy. That means looking beyond the short term and considering all interests.'

Region Ambassadors

NOM is there for long-term entrepreneurship and it is from that angle that the FDI team does its work, always focusing on promising new business activity. Sander: 'Although the establishment of (inter)national companies in this region is not our only task. We also devote time and attention to the companies that - with our commitment - have already established themselves here over the years. If they thrive here and are enthusiastic about the Northern Netherlands business climate, then these companies are valuable ambassadors for the region. Moreover, expansions or other interesting investments may follow.'

'Entrepreneurs know how important it is to keep attention to their regular customers or clients,' Sander states. 'That's why we have an Investor Relations Program at NOM. Companies that have already ventured into our region are at least as important as bringing in new leads. Suppose a European parent company wants to expand or set up an R&D branch, we naturally like to see local branch management indicate that the Northern Netherlands is the place to do it. We can then - unlike municipalities or provinces - think along about the best options from an independent position. For example, if another location is needed. Or set up projects that are close to business development.'

Creating added value

'The ultimate goal of FDI is to firmly anchor new companies in the Northern Netherlands. We are looking for companies that strengthen the structure of our economy. Although it is also important that they fit in here. Whether it's the ambitions of the region or the practical importance of a good supply chain: once connections are made, companies have added value for the Northern Netherlands. That is what we are focusing on. And that added value translates in many ways, from new jobs and spin-off to innovative projects and increasing the attractiveness of our region. For example, the arrival of the Google data center delivered a great deal for our image.

What also meant a lot for the image of the Northern Netherlands was the Top Dutch campaign focused on Elon Musk. 'With that we surprised the world, but especially the region,' says Sander. 'It's that conviction that it really is possible here. Our FDI people go out with that feeling when they visit trade fairs and other venues around the world to build relationships with potential new acquisitions. Their efforts are largely invisible, yet that is where the growing power begins, just like seeds under the ground. The challenge here is not to sow haphazardly, but to look critically at what we would like to see grow and flourish in the Northern Netherlands. It is also necessary to make conscious choices from an economic perspective.'

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'Always make critical considerations'