(Adds Obama comments, Lufthansa CEO)
WASHINGTON, May 20 (Reuters) - President Barack Obama gathered executives from several major international companies on Tuesday, including Ford Motor Co and Deutshe Lufthansa AG, to discuss a White House initiative to encourage investment in the United States.
The White House says the program, SelectUSA, has assisted in winning more than $18 billion in business investments in 17 states and territories.
Obama, Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker and other economic advisers joined the executives in a discussion about their U.S. investments.
“We have the most dynamic and creative and innovative economy in the world, but we don’t always do what it takes to go after business around the world and make sure that they know the benefits of investing in the largest market on Earth,” Obama said at the beginning of the meeting, addressing reporters.
“And we want to be more systematic about it. We want to make sure that the federal government is working in sync with state and local governments when it comes to locating businesses here in the United States.”
Companies represented at the meeting included Swedish telecom supplier Ericsson and Zurich NA, a subsidiary of Switzerland’s Zurich Insurance.
“These businesses have recognized the many advantages of locating, growing and hiring in the United States,” said Jeff Zients, director of the White House National Economic Council, in a conference call with reporters on Monday.
Lufthansa Chief Executive Carsten Spohr said low energy prices and infrastructure were good reasons for companies like his to invest in the country.
“I think the United States has discovered or re-discovered that industrial jobs are creating value, that you need to attract those investments into the country,” he told Reuters in an interview after the meeting. (Reporting by Jeff Mason; Editing by Tom Brown)