I recently represented Macomb County on a trade mission led by Governor Rick Snyder and the Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC) in November. I was selected because of my experience assisting Chinese-based company Yangfeng USA in investing more than $56 million in their Harrison Township facility.
As a Tier 1 automotive supplier to Ford, GM and Chrysler, Yangfeng chose to expand in Michigan because of the proximity to their customers and our positive business climate.
Going on a trade mission is an interesting experience. I split my time on the trip between the Michigan State Trade Export Program and the governor’s trade mission.
The first three days, I assisted Macomb County-based KC Jones Plating Co. in exploring opportunities for a joint venture with other automotive suppliers. KC Jones offers an entire line of coatings for automotive parts and currently has a proprietary coating that is environmentally friendly and a cost saver for companies and customers alike.
We met in Beijing with the BAIC International Corporation and in Shanghai with Science Applications International Corp (SAIC). The matchmaking meetings went very well and resulted in an opportunity for a site visit to a BAIC manufacturing facility just outside of the city. I met with the Chinese Association of Automotive Manufacturers to learn what next steps were recommended for the company expansion.
We then moved on to two other inland cities, Shenyang and Guangzhou, where our team met with the U.S. Consular Generals and U.S. Commercial Services staff. At this point, I transitioned to the governor’s trade mission where we journeyed to Shanghai to meet with SAIC and the many companies that have already invested in Michigan.
Gov. Snyder met with the Chinese media in each city. The media’s questions centered on the current state of Michigan’s business climate as well as tourism. (Pure Michigan is a known entity in China!) Gov. Snyder’s comments were well received. In each city, we were told that Michigan is “ripe” for tourism from China.
I learned that trade missions are as successful as the effort put into them – both in planning and follow up. Making a connection in each of these cities gave both the Chinese and me a greater understanding of each other, our cultures and opportunities for new business. Hopefully we’ll see more Chinese investment as a result.
Camille Silda is a Senior Economic Development Specialist with the Macomb County Department of Planning & Economic Development