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Remarks by Under Secretary Lago - October 4, 2022

Remarks by Under Secretary Lago at Niche Cocoa’s Ribbon Cutting Ceremony

Franklin, WI 
October 4, 2022

As Prepared for Delivery

Thank you, Steve, for that kind introduction. Congratulations to Edmund and you on realizing this exciting expansion after so much hard work, and thank you for inviting me here to celebrate with you.  I’ll add that your friendship and partnership speaks not only to the power of commerce, but also to the soft power of travel and tourism—in particular student exchange programs—a major priority of ours at the Department of Commerce.

I’ve been fortunate enough to visit Accra twice, but it took me until yesterday to get to Wisconsin, and I can’t think of a better occasion for the visit. 

This milestone is a huge credit to you, Edmund and Steve, and to so many others without whom it wouldn’t have been possible. Mayor Olson, Secretary Hughes, Milwaukee 7—thank you for welcoming Niche Cocoa to Franklin with open arms, and I look forward to taking a closer look at this gleaming new facility together.

I’m pleased to be here on behalf of the U.S. Department of Commerce’s International Trade Administration, where we’re deeply committed to building a more prosperous and inclusive economy through strengthening the competitiveness of U.S. industry and workers, ensuring fair trade practices, and promoting trade and investment. 

This includes encouraging foreign businesses to invest in American communities and workers. The Biden-Harris Administration is committed to strengthening our economic and commercial relationships in capitols around the world to help create jobs and prosperity at home in communities like Franklin. From computer chips to chocolate and everything in between, we’re laser focused on competing and winning investments from innovative companies like Niche Cocoa.

The historic investment we celebrate today—one of the largest ever in the U.S. food and beverage sector from an African investor—is a concrete example of the results that we’re achieving. 

And it’s certainly not the last or only case.  Today, Niche Cocoa joins a diverse array of forward-looking companies that are growing their businesses in the United States, the top destination for foreign direct investment for a decade running. 

They’re drawn here by our strong workforce, cutting-edge research ecosystem, robust domestic market, extensive intellectual property protections, and so many other aspects of our vibrant, dynamic and open economy.

In turn, the benefits of foreign investment flow across industries and regions, supporting enough jobs in Wisconsin to fill Lambeau Field more than one and a half times over. These investments bring to communities like Franklin not just well-paying jobs, but also tax revenue and new avenues to achieve mutual prosperity. 

I’m optimistic that today’s investment and others like it will inspire more African businesses to reach for their share of the boundless opportunities for growth and investment in the United States.

Our team at the International Trade Administration stands ready to help—especially through our SelectUSA program, which counsels and guides foreign firms seeking to invest here in the United States.  In fact, it was at the SelectUSA Investment Summit this past June where I first encountered Niche Cocoa as part of the Ghanian delegation, and our team and the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation were integral to their investment decision. 

We hope to expand on their work during the U.S.-Africa Business Forum this December, during which we’ll convene private sector leaders in Washington  alongside the Administration’s Africa Leaders’ Summit. 

ITA is also here to help Wisconsin companies compete abroad.  Based in over 100 U.S. cities—including Milwaukee—and some 70 markets around the world—including Accra—our team draws on deep local market knowledge to find potential exporters and help them find new opportunities and markets to grow their businesses.

I encourage those of you here in the Wisconsin business community to engage these teams to bring more jobs here by strengthening homegrown businesses and by bringing new ones in—and before you know it, Niche may have some new neighbors here in Franklin. 

In the meantime, we look forward to watching Niche Cocoa grow and thrive here as it shares Ghana’s delicious bounty with Americans and the world—shrinking 6,000 miles into the space of a single bite.  Thank you, and congratulations once again to Edmund, Steve, the whole Niche Cocoa team and the city of Franklin, Wisconsin. 

With that, back over to you, Steve.