Market/Country Selection


A. Identify North Dakota Mission Goal/s

The more industries represented, goals identified, and participants included, the more complicated and costly the process becomes.

  1. FDI
    • Specific industries
      • Businesses
      • Investment Groups
      • Industry Groups
    • Industry Subject Matter Experts (i.e.: Energy Industry- Pipeline Authority, EERC)
  2. Workforce
    • Industry needs
    • Specialized training
    • Student recruitment
  3. Trade
  4. Education/University Relationships
  5. Ambassadorship/”sister” relations
  6. Tourism

Recommend at least 12-18 months for Governor led missions (at least 6-9 months for Commerce led) in advance for relationship build. See timeline overview below. This timeline can be shortened with European countries or countries with significant existing ND relationships.

B. Industry Prioritization

  • Talk to ND companies/industry groups about their market interests
  • Connect with NDTO
  • Connect with US Commerce Trade Office in ND: Fargo Contact Us ( SelectUSA Resources and Information (

C. Market Research

  • SelectUSA Home ( US Commerce arm for FDI, connection can be made by Fargo US Trade Office
  • Export Solutions - Good, free info, more export focused
  • International Trade Administration: CCG Landing Page ( Information by Country

D. Political Stability/Friendly Nation

The US State Department maintains a list of countries that sponsor terrorism. I would suggest that we use this list to determine if it is safe and worthy of resource commitments.

E. Foreign Country Gross Domestic Product

F. 5-Year FDI Trend

G. Industry Match to ND


Success Metrics


  • # of Foreign Companies Investing in ND
  • # of Foreign Companies Locating in ND
  • # of Foreign Companies Buying existing ND Companies


  • # of Meetings
  • # of Participants in meetings
  • # of Participants in meetings from C-Suite
  • Market Cap of Businesses in meetings



Most consulates serve a specific geographical area of the US. Make sure to identify the appropriate consulate for North Dakota (often located in Chicago or MSP.) Some, like Spain, are divided into industry focus areas.

  1. Send introductory email messages to consul general's offices. NDTO can be a good partner for those relationships.
  2. Visit the consulate in person.
    • Research existing ND connections (business, cultural, university) to country.
    • Research country business culture prior to visit. NDTO has some resources.
    • Bring a small ND based gift for each person in the meeting.
    • Identify industry overlaps.
    • Determine potential trade or business organizations that may help in making introductions.


  • Ask for advice of Trade/business groups and do your own research
  • Ask for introductions to companies, especially those with North American subsidiaries
  • Meet with North American subsidiaries (virtually, at overlapping industry or Government (like SelectUSA) conferences)
  • Travel to US HQs for interested parties and pitch c-suite


  1. Governor-led or Commissioner led
  2. Joint mission with NDTO
    • The Trade Missions as they are run currently by NDTO are very different than an Investment Mission run by Commerce. Please connect with them directly to verify, but based on my current understanding, NDTO works with their member ND export companies and industry groups to determine markets of interest. They may also determine that a market is of interest based on a foreign market’s specific interest in North Dakota. Once a location is determined, the opportunity is shared to their networks and businesses indicate their interest in the trip to NDTO. Interested businesses need to be exporters or prove they are export-ready (as well as be the appropriate size). NDTO then works with US Commercial Services in the target countries to set each company up with a “Gold Key Service.” This service comes at a cost to the company, but this cost is usually covered by a specific federal grant. The service sets up in-country meetings specific to the companies’ goals for export. A service like this does not exist for FDI from the Federal Government, but some private business groups will provide this service at a cost, depending on the country. These costs tend to be high, the services limited, and the federal government does not have grant money to cover these.
  3. Other ND Agencies involved
    • ND Department of Ag
    • Bank of North Dakota
    • EERC
    • Higher Education
    • Other State Agencies (as appropriate to mission goals)
  4. Will individual businesses or industry groups participate?


Advanced mission suggested 3 months prior for Governor led missions and countries with geo-political complexity.

  • Meet with US Commercial Services in country
  • In person meetings with largest target companies
  • In person meetings with relevant Foreign Ministry/Agency staff
  • Determine in country travel, translation, accommodations, security detail


Governor-Led Mission Timeline

  • 12-18 months: identify country, connect with consulates, identify mission goals, bring recommendations to Governor’s office for approval
  • 9-12 months: connect with foreign business groups, identify target businesses, relationship build, select pre-mission dates
  • 6-9 months: invite consulate and foreign businesses to ND, connect with US Commercial Services office/Embassy/SelectUSA in country, get recommendations (translation, hotels, transportation), select official mission dates (make sure to look at country holidays before scheduling)
  • 4-6 months: Connect with companies in country, schedule meetings for pre-mission (businesses, hotels, translation services, transportation services), announce official mission in State and begin recruiting business participants (if applicable), determine country visa/travel requirements, work with Consulate/Embassy contacts to schedule Governor’s Ministry meetings
  • 3 months: Pre-mission trip (business visits, hotel visits, translation meetings, US Commercial Services meeting, security, potential restaurants)
  • 2-3 months: Make hotel, transportation, translation arrangements. Apprise participants of visa and other travel requirements. Schedule Governor meetings. Determine funding source for gifts, hospitality, other costs outside of the Commerce per-view (EDF? Private Industry donations
  • 2 months: Wrap up recruitment, collect mission payment (?), and request participant bios/company profiles/company mission goals. Collect all ND mission presentation materials. Send business cards and materials for translation, if applicable.
  • 2-4 weeks: Host pre-mission information session (virtual, make sure to record video for those that can’t join) for all participants, send out finalized agendas,On site, at the conclusion of the program in each country, poll participants to determine their level of satisfaction, any immediate results they may wish to report, and their long-term expectations. For additional information, consult International Trade Specialists at your nearest U.S. Export Assistance Center (USEAC).