At a time when some U.S. companies are moving operations overseas, it's good to see many well-known companies still investing heavily here in the U.S. This investment not only keeps millions of American working, it also creates opportunities for new services to improve our lives.
The scope of these combined investments is remarkable. According to a recent USA Today article, the 25 companies making the largest capital investments in the U.S. spent more than $150 billion on plants, property, and equipment here in 2013. The article drew on data from a report issued this week by the Progressive Policy Institute (PPI).
These "investment heroes," as the PPI report calls them, are primarily in the telecom, energy and technology industries. AT&T was the clear winner, investing almost $21 billion last year. Verizon was second, spending about $15 billion.
The top 10 companies accounted for almost $100 billion of investment. The telecom field led all other industries with four companies investing nearly $47 billion inside the U.S.
While this "investment heroes" report has telling conclusions about corporate investment last year, what's even more striking are the long-term figures. Since 1996, according to an industry report this week, U.S. broadband providers have invested more than $1.3 trillion in network infrastructure. Total broadband investment grew to $75 billion in 2013, up almost 10 percent from 2012.
The key point about this investment involves far more than company balance sheets. It goes to the heart of America's ability to generate new services and opportunities. This is especially clear when it comes to telecom investment.
For years, I've written and blogged about how people benefit when mobile technology and healthcare services merge. The growth of mHealth offers the potential of huge improvements in both health care access and quality. For seniors in particular, new mHealth equipment offers an affordable way to continue living independently while still gaining real-time medical security.
Although this week's report did not break down investments into "wireless" and "wired" categories, there's little doubt that the industry spent billions last year to expand better, faster mobile services. That investment makes possible the dramatic improvements in medical care, especially in underprivileged and rural communities where mHealth is becoming increasingly valuable.
Of course, the benefits of expanding high-speed Internet service, especially mobile broadband, aren't confined to health care. Improved access to education and government services are two more clear-cut examples. Better wireless broadband also offers the potential of improved energy efficiency.
With economic insecurity still a concern for many, it is good to see that many companies still see the importance of investing in America. It's especially good news that such a large part of that investment is going into communication networks that will be the foundation of so many future opportunities.