W. Ford Graham, IMBA, Esq. is a senior vice president on McGuireWoods Consulting’s national infrastructure & economic development team and a partner with McGuireWoods LLP.
Ford has a depth of experience working in the economic development sector where he has been one of the leading recruiters of international companies to the Southeastern United States. He has facilitated new industry and industrial expansion in over 132 projects, which have resulted in commitments of more than 13,000 new jobs and $38.9 billion in new investment. Ford’s practice focuses on companies opening or expanding operations in the U.S. In addition to economic incentives, Ford assists companies with the full spectrum of legal needs that arise when companies enter new markets.
Most recently, Ford was a partner at an international AmLaw 100 law firm, and he previously served as director of international strategy and trade for the South Carolina Department of Commerce. In that role, he directed all aspects of the agency’s international efforts, including South Carolina’s four international offices in Delhi, Munich, Shanghai, and Tokyo, uncovering foreign direct investment opportunities, and assisting South Carolina companies with exporting their products to the rest of the world. Before that, he worked as general counsel for a real estate development/investment firm and served as a judicial clerk in the 5th and 14th Judicial Circuits of South Carolina. Ford served as a United States Peace Corps Volunteer in Guatemala.
Ford is an avid runner and has completed over 30 marathons/ultramarathons including multiple 50-mile races and a 100-mile race in Georgia.
McGuireWoods Consulting LLC (“MWC”) is a wholly owned subsidiary of the McGuireWoods LLP law firm. From time to time, various McGuireWoods lawyers provide non-legal services to MWC clients, but MWC cannot provide legal services or advice. Therefore, any work MWC performs for a client does not give rise to an attorney-client relationship or privilege. Should you require legal services from McGuireWoods, as well as consulting services from MWC, you must engage the law firm separately.
- Assisted an American data center company in establishing multiple operations in the Southeastern U.S, resulting in the second largest investment announcement in US history.
- Assisted a Canadian clothing manufacturer with the expansion of their existing HQ and distribution facility and expansion of production facility in the Southeastern U.S.
- Assisted a multinational paper products conglomerate with the acquisition and large-scale expansion of production facilities in the home goods sector in the both the Southeastern and Midwestern U.S., and the expansion of production facilities in both the Southeastern and Northwestern U.S.
- Assisted an Israel-based international defense electronics company with a greenfield production and HQ facility for advanced manufacturing in the defense sector in the Southeastern U.S.
- Assisted an India and U.S.-based advanced manufacturing company with a greenfield production facility for advanced manufacturing in the aerospace sector in the Southeastern and Northeastern U.S.
- Assisted a U.S.-based solar developer with 136 greenfield industrial solar arrays (2-150MW) in the Southeastern U.S.
- Assisted a large, German vehicle manufacturer with multiple large-scale expansions of their existing production facility in the Southeastern U.S.
- Assisted a Canadian manufacturer of multilayered laminated products with a greenfield production facility in the Southeastern U.S.
- Assisted a U.S.-based, prepared meal delivery company with greenfield production and distribution facilities for the food service sector in both the Northeastern and Mid-Atlantic U.S. and a greenfield distribution facility for the food service sector in the Southeastern U.S.
- Assisted a Turkish supplier of premium bedding products with a greenfield production and distribution facility for the home furnishings sector in the Southeastern U.S.
- Spearheaded the development of the legal structure behind a new incentive program for the economic development arm of a country in the Middle East.
- University of South Carolina Darla Moore School of BusinessInternational MBA2006
- University of South Carolina School of LawJD2006
- Tulane UniversityBA1999
Member, Industrial Asset Management Council (IAMC)
Mentor, Teach for America
Past President, Council of American States in Europe (40-year old organization consisting of the 17 American states with representatives in Europe)
Past President, Vice President, Returned Peace Corps Volunteers of South Carolina
- Speaker, "Perspectives and Trends in Foreign Direct Investment, Transatlantic Relations, and the Global Economy", Transatlantic Business & Investment Council (TBIC) Annual Conference, August 2023
- Speaker, "The Intersection of Property Tax and Credits & Incentives: What Every Property Tax and C&I Professional Needs to Know", Institute for Professionals in Taxation – Annual Conference, June 2023
- Speaker, "The Growth of Economic Development and International Business in South Carolina", The Edge, Folks Center for International Business, Moore School of Business, University of South Carolina, June 2023
- Speaker, "FDI: Finally Decoding It!", Southern Economic Development Council - Meet the Consultants Forum, May 2023
- Speaker, "Mega Projects and Their Impact on State/Local Incentives, Legislation, and How to Position your ‘Traditional’ Project to Break Through the Noise", Industrial Asset Management Council - Spring Forum, April 2023
- Speaker, "Podcast Episode 79: Europe and European FDI with W. Ford Graham", Econ Dev Show with Dane Carlson, January 2023
- Speaker, "Overcoming Solar Panel and Battery Supply and Production Challenges", Southeast Renewable Energy Summit, November 2022
- Speaker, "2022 Top States Commentary: Responsiveness to Projects Big — and Small — Lands a Core Group of States on Top", Area Development Consultants Forum, September 2022
- Speaker, "Community Growth Through Business Retention & Expansion (BR&E)", Logistics Development Forum - BeaverCreek, August 2022
- Speaker, "Geo-Political Environment & Transatlantic FDI Relations", Transatlantic Business & Investment Conference, August 2022
- Speaker, "Impact of MEGA Projects on Site Selection", Area Development Consultants Forum, June 2022
- Speaker, "Creative Incentives Discussion", Georgia Economic Developers Association Spring Workshop, May 2022
- Speaker, "State of Economic Development", Illinois Economic Developers Association Annual Site Selector Forum, April 2022
- Speaker, "Economic Development in the US – How This All Works", Tenth Annual "Under the Wire" CLE Seminar, February 2022
- Speaker, "Webinar: How Onshoring Affects Site Selection: Tariffs Coupled with The Pandemic Have Impacted Supply Chains and Certain Goods Markets", Industrial Asset Management Council, March 2021
- Speaker, "2021 Timely Aspects and Updates on International Law Featuring Dispute Resolution, The Hague, Trade and Intellectual Property", 2021 SC Bar Convention, October 2020
- Speaker, "Economic Development After COVID-19: What it Means for Existing & Prospective Companies", Council of American States in Europe: USA Investment Roundtable, June 2020
- Speaker, "Due Diligence & Site Selection", SelectUSA Canada Conference, December 2019
- Speaker, "You Will Need a Lawyer: Best Practices for Doing Business in the U.S.", U.S. Embassy in the Czech Republic, September 2019
- Speaker, "How U.S. Tax Reform Impacts Doing Business and Investments Between the United States and Switzerland", U.S. Embassy in Switzerland, March 2018
- Speaker, "Foreign Direct Investment in South Carolina", Charleston Regional Development Alliance Quarterly Briefing, February 2017
- Moderator, "Europe and Asia Market", Southern Forest Products Export Conference, October 2016
- South Carolina
Recognized as a Coastal Region Icon, SC Biz News, 2022
Named to “Legal Elite of the Lowcountry,” Charleston Business Magazine, 2018, 2019
Recipient, Distinguished Young Alumni Award, University of South Carolina’s Darla Moore School of Business, 2017
Named to “20 Under 40,” Emerging Business Leaders, The State Newspaper, 2011
Recipient, South Carolina’s Rural Development Service Award, 2009
- Panelist, "Impacts of the IRA on the Renewable Energy Pipeline in the Southeast", Southeast Renewable Energy Summit, December 6, 2023
- Moderator, "Utilities’ Carbon-Free Goals and Their Future Plans for Renewable Energy", Southeast Renewable Energy Summit, December 6, 2023
- Panelist, "Changing Dynamics of Renewable Energy Development", Southeast Renewable Energy Summit, December 7, 2023