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Chamber Leads Action-Packed Month of Business Attraction Events to Market Detroit Region’s Assets

The Detroit Regional Chamber’s Business Attraction team recently concluded an action-packed month in March, crisscrossing the globe to promote the Detroit region’s assets to national and international prospects at numerous high-profile events.

On March 23-24, the Chamber partnered with the Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC) to attend the SelectUSA Investment Summit in Washington, D.C., which brings together investors from across the world, national economic development organizations, government officials and others working to facilitate investment in the United States. The trip included 61 one-on-one meetings, 37 of which were with companies tied to agriculture, alternative energy, defense and manufacturing that are interested in foreign direct investment in Michigan and the Detroit region.

Angela Fortino, business development representative for the Chamber, met with representatives from 10 different countries, including Chile, China, Germany, Japan, Iceland, Israel, Italy and Taiwan. Overall inquiries, she said, focused on Detroit’s bankruptcy, Michigan’s tax structure and the economic health of Southeast Michigan.

“A lot of people were surprised that Michigan is a right-to-work state, so we need to do a better job at promoting that to outside investors,” she said.

For the summit, the state of Michigan and its partners developed a prospectus for real estate opportunities. According to SelectUSA and the U.S. Department of Commerce, it was the only document like it that was prepared for attendees. In the future, the Chamber and its partners plan to create robust marketing to coincide with the summit and ancillary events for foreign direct investment and business attraction.

Members of the Michigan delegation that attended this year’s event included Ann Arbor SPARK, the city of Southfield, Clayton & McKervey, Flint and Genesee Chamber of Commerce, Macomb County and Miller Canfield.

Attracting Global Business Expansion with Mission to France and Italy

The Chamber’s Vice President of Economic Development Maureen Krauss traveled to Europe to meet with companies in France and Italy during a two-week mission March 7-21. The two-pronged trip included attendance at the MIPIM conference in Cannes, France, which brings together over 20,000 investors from 89 countries for four days of networking and discussion on investment opportunities in communities across the world. It was the first conference of its kind attended by the Chamber, Krauss said.

“Our attendance at MIPIM was about getting the Detroit region in the minds of key decision makers,” she said. “When a company wants to invest $100 million dollars somewhere, we want to make sure they understand our story and what opportunities may exist in Southeast Michigan.”

The second half of the mission took place in Italy and included collaborative efforts with the MEDC to call on businesses and other contacts during a fast-paced four-day schedule that culminated with meetings with 14 companies. All of the companies previously expressed interest in expanding into the Detroit region through contact with the Chamber or its partners.

Krauss said meeting with companies and obtaining a better understanding of their needs was far more beneficial than reaching out via phone call.

“It’s very important to see a company’s operations in order to obtain a better understanding of what decision makers may be considering in Michigan. Even a good website won’t help you with that. It’s about touring advanced manufacturing operations and getting a feel for the type of facility a company wants to build here,” she said.

“Any good sales person will tell you a one-on-one meeting beats a phone call any day. Often you have to ask for the sale — which in this case is arguing for the Detroit region — and it’s much more impactful to do that in person,” Krauss added.

Many of the companies Krauss met with specialize in manufacturing and office space development and are “intrigued” with the revitalization taking place in the region, she said.

“When these companies hear about Detroit, they hear the region. They aren’t looking at borders between communities. They view all of Southeast Michigan and they are very curious about what’s going to happen here next.”

That’s why, Krauss said, it’s important to continue to market the region with one unified voice and present its assets with a collaborative outline to foreign investors.