Snyder back to China to lure biz

Updated: 2014-08-01 07:46

By CHEN WEIHUA in Washington (China Daily USA)

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Snyder back to China to lure biz

Michigan Governor Rick Snyder (right) talks to reporters on Thursday in Washington during a trip to promote his state's economy to business leaders, while Bill Ford, executive chairman of the Ford Motor Company looked on. Chen Weihua / China Daily

Michigan Governor Rick Snyder has been leading trade missions to China every year since taking office in January 2011. He is planning to go back again in November.

His fourth trip to China as Michigan governor will take place in the month when the state holds its gubernatorial election. Snyder will be running for re-election against the less known former Democratic Congressman Mark Schauer.

“I'm going (to China) every year. This has been a big deal to me going to China,” Snyder said on Thursday in Washington, where he led a group of Michigan business leaders to promote his state.

Snyder, who had a strong business background before becoming governor, said Michigan is seeing tremendous interest from China.

“The automotive industry is leading that in many respects,” said Snyder, with Ford Motor Co Executive Chairman Bill Ford sitting next to him.

Citing Shanghai Automotive Industry Corp for setting up its North America headquarters in Birmingham, Michigan, Snyder believes the trend is a natural evolution.

He touted the state's strong research and development capacity, especially in the auto industry. With 375 R&D centers in the auto industry, Michigan offers 75 percent of North American R&D for the entire auto industry, according to Snyder.

Ford said that since his company has been investing in China and become very familiar with Chinese firms, many of them are looking to locate in the United States.

“And we are opening their eyes to Michigan, so it really works both ways,” he said.

While many people still remember Detroit's filing for bankruptcy a year ago, Snyder acknowledged that everything was going in the wrong direction in his state a few years ago. But he assured that both Michigan and Detroit are coming back. He cited that the population has been growing, instead of dropping, and the rapid surge of the state in various rankings, such as the number of manufacturing jobs, high-tech jobs, high-paying jobs and its pro-business environment. Its rankings for corporate taxes and business environment have advanced more than 30 places in the last few years.

“It's not about moving two or three places. It's really asking the question how you lead two or three dozen states at a time,” he said. “That's what's exciting. We're seeing great things going on in Detroit and the state is coming back. So I'm very bullish on the future.”

Doug Rothwell, president and CEO of Business Leaders for Michigan, said the state is posed for economic expansion with unique assets and strength, including the development of a talented labor pool.

“We have top talent, including one of the highest concentrations of engineers per capita of any state in the country,” he said.

On July 25, Michigan announced that it had approved incentives to six international companies, all a result of Snyder's trade and investment missions overseas in the last few years. The six companies come from Germany, Italy, Canada and China.

H.A. Automotive Systems Inc was investing $28 million that will create 368 jobs in Troy. The North American subsidiary of Shanghai Changhui Industry Development Co Ltd, an automotive lighting components supplier, has plans to purchase a building in Troy to establish a headquarters, manufacturing and R&D facility.

Meanwhile, Yanfeng USA Automotive Trim Systems Inc is investing up to $56.2 million that will create 519 jobs by expanding its current manufacturing facility in Harrison Township.

Michigan has been a leading state in the US for attracting the number of Chinese foreign direct investment projects, trailing only California and New York, according to New York-based Rhodium Group, which monitors Chinese FDI in the US.