Two years ago, Governor Snyder came to China to start building a relationship almost out of nothing. At the time, it had been 11 years since a governor of the state of Michigan had come to China; Snyder vowed to reverse this trend and put Michigan back in the game to attract business and investment from this economic giant.
On Friday, Snyder and a delegation of 60-plus Michigan business owners and MEDC representatives left China after his now 3rd consecutive trade mission in as many years. As a Michigander that has been living in Beijing since the governor made his first trip, I am amazed and encouraged by the progress that has been made. Last year, the trip was headlined by the opening of the Michigan China Center in Shanghai, and this year, the governor took the message of the “Comeback State” on the road to Beijing, Shanghai, and Chongqing.
Third Trade Mission Delegation was dynamic, successful
The delegation itself has matured greatly from two years ago. It was exciting to mingle with so many high quality Michiganders at the governor’s reception in Beijing and see the hope and excitement they have being introduced to business in China. Although auto-related companies still represent the lion’s share of stakeholders in the bilateral relationship, this year’s delegation had a larger presence from service providers in a variety of industries. Terry Terry, President of Lansing-based video production and event management company MessageMakers, came with the delegation to not only film the historic visit but to also identify partners in China to grow his global business.
It was clear that real business was done on this trip. Prior to the Beijing reception, timber manufacturer and designer Morabark Industries of Winn, MI signed an agreement with a Chinese partner to formalize a business collaboration that will bring jobs to both Michigan and China.
The Pure Michigan Brand is gaining steam in China
Snyder’s efforts are clearly helping the name and reputation of the “Pure Michigan” brand spread very quickly in China. During this trip, he secured a meeting and press conference with China’s Vice Premier Wang Yang, in which both agreed that there were a myriad of opportunities for a state like Michigan to collaborate with China. The Mayor of Chongqing, Huang Qifen, seemed to agree, penning a memorandum of understanding to build stronger economic ties between the city of 30 million people and Michigan. Government meetings at that high of a level would have been impossible two years ago.
What is even more amazing is the quality of the contacts the state has built in the private sector as well. In Beijing, the governor led the MEDC in meetings with the Chinese giant entertainment and real estate conglomerate, Wanda Group. Wanda group is growing into one of the largest and fastest growing private companies in China; last year, Wanda bought AMC Theaters for $2.6 billion, and is gearing up for huge foreign investment projects in the U.S. and throughout the world. The fact that Snyder’s team has at least put Michigan on the radar shows that Michigan is starting to get taken seriously.
Congratulations to Governor Snyder and this year’s trade mission for a successful trip! Please remember there are still thousands of Michigan resident expats here in China that are proud of where we come from, and are looking forward to helping contribute to building the Pure Michigan brand in China!