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Auto Show Showcases Michigan

From The Detroit News

January 12, 2015

Steve Arwood and Sandy Baruah

As the world’s finest automobiles dazzle at the North American International Auto Show — there is a parallel show you won’t see but you should know about. It is for investors from across the nation and around the world. Beyond the reveals, NAIAS presents the opportunity to tell the economic story of the Detroit region and Michigan and provides the perfect start to business attraction efforts in 2015.

While NAIAS attendees will marvel over the dynamic automobiles on display, our job is to show off the marvels that make the Detroit region and Michigan a premier destination for domestic and foreign investment. This is of particular importance as national and international perceptions about the nascent post-bankruptcy period are forming.

During NAIAS, the Detroit Regional Chamber and Michigan Economic Development Corporation are partnering to show potential investors everything the city and state have to offer. From tours of the city to one-on-one match making meetings with local companies, we will welcome site selectors from around the nation and groups such as the Chicago International Trade Commissioners Association to explore the opportunities here.

These efforts also include a U.S.-China Automotive Forum held with the Chinese Council for Promotion of International Trade (CCPIT) Automotive Committee. A product of the recent trade mission with Governor Rick Snyder, the relationship with CCPIT is about positioning Michigan to capitalize on the opportunities created by the rapidly growing Chinese automotive market.

These relationships are important because positioning Detroit, the region and the state for long-term sustainable economic growth in today’s global market requires attracting outside investment from places like Chicago and Beijing. Connecting with foreign companies and new markets will create opportunities for Michigan businesses in the automotive industry as well as other sectors such as agriculture and tourism. It also positions our state to further capitalize in innovative sectors such as connected vehicle technology and information technology.

While at Cobo, the message is simple: Michigan remains one of the best places on the planet to innovate and make things. Michigan is home to 63 of the top 100 auto suppliers to North America, and its 375 R&D centers represent more than 75 percent of United States automotive R & D spending. The state also ranks first nationally in the concentration of industrial engineers, R&D professionals and skilled-trade workers.

The increasingly high-tech automobiles on display at Cobo provide the perfect backdrop to deliver this powerful message. The automobiles epitomize what Detroit and Michigan offer. Many are researched, designed and manufactured by our world-class workforce. The R&D, first-rate universities and engineers that go into making these vehicles offers opportunity and innovation that transcends industries and markets.

The fact that those assets reside in a state with renowned natural resources and beauty sitting on an international border with access to the North American market, only makes the value proposition greater.

As the vehicles unveiled at Cobo turn heads, the opportunities present in the Detroit region and Michigan are turning heads around the global investment world. Together we can see how the interest is building and the investment is coming, and there is no better place to build on that momentum and tell that story than the North American International Auto Show in Detroit.

Steve Arwood is executive vice president and chief operating officer of the Michigan Economic Development Corporation. Sandy Baruah is president and CEO of the Detroit Regional Chamber.