With this ceremony, Flanders Investment & Trade (FIT) aims to underline the socioeconomic importance of foreign investments for Flanders. Last year, foreign companies channeled EUR 5.2 billion into the region, generating the highest-ever number of new investment projects and additional jobs.
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Flanders honors 4 foreign investors after record year
Flanders’ Minister-President Jan Jambon handed the 2020 Foreign Investment of the Year Trophy to Masha Vis-Mertens, VP of the Operations & Supply Chain Organization at Barry Callebaut. To further anchor its activities in Flanders and serve the international market even more effectively, the Swiss chocolate manufacturer is funneling EUR 100 million into a new, global distribution center in Lokeren. “With this investment, Barry Callebaut confirms Flanders’ strong and resilient logistics assets and strategic location,” said the Minister-President.
Barry Callebaut emerged victorious after three rounds of voting by a professional jury, the general public via an online poll, and those present at the event. Four other foreign investors were also nominated: truck manufacturer DAF Trucks (Netherlands/US), diamond producer Heyaru Engineering (Dubai/India), medtech specialist Hologic (US) and car transshipment firm International Car Operators (Japan).
Sportswear manufacturer Nike took home the 2020 Lifetime Achievement Trophy. Nike ELC General Manager Kurt Van Donink received the trophy from Flanders’ Minister-President Jan Jambon. The American giant's first investment in Flanders dates back to 1994 when it built a distribution center in Laakdal. A second and third distribution center followed in 1995 and 2007 in Meerhout and Ham, respectively. Over the years, those three sites in Flanders grew to become the European Logistics Campus (ELC): Nike's main logistics gateway to the European market.
In addition, the company recently reiterated its trust in the future of its local operations by investing in two expansions in Ham. These included the construction of the Wings DC in 2016, for which Nike previously won the Foreign Investment of The Year Trophy, and the Court DC in 2019.
The Lifetime Achievement Trophy acknowledges Nike's long and successful track record in Flanders. This international player has been continuously investing in Flanders for more than a quarter of a century and has grown into one of the main American employers in the region.
US-based Inari was the recipient of the 2020 Newcomer of the Year Trophy. Inari Managing Director Fred Van Ex and Inari Chief Scientific Officer Catherine Feuillet received the trophy from the hands of Flanders’ Minister-President Jan Jambon.
The biotech firm recently opened its first site in Flanders, a research center in Ghent, where it is collaborating with knowledge institutions VIB and ILVO on a new generation of seeds. Their aim is to develop crops that not only yield more and are better suited to a variety of soil types and weather conditions, but that are also less dependent on water and chemical use.
This trophy acknowledges a company's first steps on Flanders’ soil. Attracting new investors is a must to keep our economy healthy and competitive. 2019 was an absolute record year in that regard: never before have foreign companies guaranteed so many investments and created so many new jobs in Flanders – not to mention the fact that different records were also broken in previous years.
British chemical company INEOS has won the 2020 Exceptional Investment Trophy. Flanders’ Minister-President Jan Jambon presented this singular trophy – which has never been awarded before – to CEO of Project ONE at INEOS John McNally.
“INEOS announced the construction of a new production site at the Port of Antwerp: an investment of EUR 3 billion,” stated the Minister-President. “There is no doubt that this is an exceptional investment. Not only is this amount the biggest investment ever made by INEOS, it also is the largest investment made in the European chemical industry in 20 years, boosting the sector’s resilience in the proces.”