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Doing business in the USA


America is famously the ‘land of opportunity’ and it’s opportunity that Leeds and the wider Northern region are working hard to tap into, with initiatives underway for doing business in the USA and to strengthen ties between the places and spaces helping to drive economic growth in Yorkshire and Humber and America’s Eastern Seaboard.

The Leeds City Region and the Northern Powerhouse are particularly focused on improving connections with cities such as Charlotte and Boston, both of which have deep historic and cultural ties to the UK and share key industries with our region.

To get a perspective on the work being done to strengthen economic ties between our region and the USA, Clarion hosted a roundtable event on 2nd April. We welcomed representatives from Yorkshire businesses to hear from guest speakers, who provided a snapshot of the initiatives underway and the opportunities available to British companies in the USA - useful for those thinking of setting up a business in the USA.

Clarion was lucky enough to welcome as our first guest speaker the British Honorary Consul in North Carolina, Michael Teden. A UK businessman, Michael moved to the USA in 1979 and has been Consul since 2001. He founded the British American Business Council of North Carolina in 1992 and is currently its Chairman. Given the extent of his experience working in the USA, we were very grateful to have Michael in attendance and he was able to offer an in-depth perspective on what being a Brit in business abroad is like for those working in North Carolina.

Two nations divided by a common language

As Michael made clear, the South-Eastern states in the US are an engine room of advanced manufacturing and entrepreneurial activity. The city of Charlotte in North Carolina is the number two banking centre in the US and has the seventh busiest airport in the world. The principle economic activities of Charlotte - and of Boston, 900 miles to the north - align perfectly with Yorkshire and Humber’s strengths in financial services, technology and healthcare, thereby providing plenty of opportunity that Yorkshire businesses can exploit.

Michael also highlighted the cultural differences that UK workers may experience when working in the USA, something that people tend not to consider because of the close cultural ties between the USA and the UK. However, the phrase ‘two nations divided by a common language’ can prove to be very apposite - one person at the event described how confusion reigned when a UK company, wanting to move a deal forward, said they would ‘table it’, only for the company in the USA to shelve the deal, because to Americans, ‘tabling’ something means cancelling it.

Exporting to the USA – experience shared

We were also lucky enough to hear from Michael Hughes, who, as CEO of Hesco Bastion, was responsible for driving the manufacturer’s strategy in the USA, which includes the exportation of 98% of its output through the USA. Angus Armitage of the Leeds-based media company DS.Emotion also spoke about his experience of business development in the USA. Media companies like DS.Emotion and tech businesses tend to transfer to the American market well, as there are fewer barriers to entry than for, say, a manufacturer, who must decide whether to make their product in the USA, or transport it from the UK.

Colin Russell, international trade specialist and transatlantic business support leader at advisory firm Resolve Gets Results shared his experience of supporting UK businesses exporting to the USA. Our final speaker was David Attia, Senior Associate at Chamber International, the international arm of West and North Yorkshire Chamber of Commerce, who described the support available to Yorkshire and Humber businesses looking to expand into the USA and many other global markets.

Response to the 'Doing business in the USA' event

The event was well-attended, with businesses from a wide range of sectors present. Steve Crow, who chaired the event, said “It was a fantastic opportunity for businesses to come together, share their experiences and get a better understanding of how to enter the American market. Clarion has, for many years, facilitated trade missions from various regions of the USA to support transatlantic trade, as well as providing Yorkshire businesses with practical advice on market entry strategies.”

Clarion Commercial and IT Partner Matt Hattersley, who attended the event, praised the variety of companies that were present, saying “it was great to see so much interest from businesses from so many different sectors. With all these companies interested in moving into the American market, the ties between our region and the USA will easily be strengthened.” Dominic Higham, Dispute Resolution Partner at Clarion, agreed and added that “it was a pleasure to hear about the different experiences of these businessmen who have made the move into the American market and to understand that there is support out there for those companies looking to do it.”

If you’re interested in taking your business to the USA and would like to find out more, Clarion has a great network of contacts who can share with you their experience and knowledge. Please contact Steve Crow for more information.

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