Gov. Rick Snyder spent the first day of his European investment mission meeting here with government officials and business executives to strengthen relationships and attract new job-creating investments to Michigan.
"We are telling the story of our reinvention of Michigan with long-standing Italian companies that operate in our state and others that can benefit from doing business in Michigan," Snyder said. "Michigan's business climate is greatly improved and we are here to open new doors for trade with and business investment in our state."
Snyder and his delegation of state, university and local officials and economic developers met with executives from CO.MEC, EDN Group, Fiat suppliers and FIAMM S.p.A., along with representatives of several financial institutions.
They will devote the rest of the week in Germany to meeting with executives of many of that country's largest companies and Michigan companies that operate there.
German and Italian business relationships with Michigan traditionally have been strong, and state business leaders and economists say the potential growth opportunities for Michigan are enormous:
- Michigan exports to Europe totaled $6 billion in 2011, with transportation equipment and chemicals accounting for nearly half of the total.
- Michigan exports to Italy totaled $394 million in 2011, with transportation equipment accounting for more than half of the total. Italy accounted for 6 percent of the state's total exports to Europe in 2011.
- Michigan exports to Germany totaled nearly $1.8 billion in 2011, led by transportation equipment, nonmetallic mineral products and primary metal manufacturing. Germany accounted for nearly 30 percent of Michigan exports to Europe in 2011.
- Approximately 80,000 Michiganders are employed by German- and Italian-owned companies that operate here. These companies, representing a wide range of industry sectors, are heavily concentrated in advanced automotive manufacturing and research and development, sectors well known for producing high-wage jobs.
A traditional practice when visiting foreign government officials is the exchange of gifts that represent each others' homelands. While in Europe, Snyder will present gifts of Michigan-made artwork including hand-blown glass pieces, handmade wood boxes, wood pens, leather boxes and fine photography.
The Michigan-based artisans include Fireworks Glass Studios glassware, Mikutowski Wordworking, handmade wood pens by Richard Monroe, glass works by Lynn Dinning, handmade leather boxes by Mike Barnes, and fine art photography by Monte Nagler.
The mission is Snyder's second since taking office in 2011. Last September, he led an eight-day trade mission in Asia, where he and a Michigan delegation met with Japanese, Chinese and Korean business executives and government officials to promote business opportunities in Michigan.