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Italian Auto Suppliers Eager to Invest in Michigan

Italian Automotive Suppliers Eager to Invest in Michigan

The Detroit Regional Chamber continues to see considerable growth among European manufacturers looking to expand in Michigan and the United States.

As part of its goal to grow foreign direct investment in the Detroit region, the Chamber’s Business Attraction team continues to cultivate the Italian market, co-leading five trade missions to Italy and hosting three Italian delegations in the past three years. Those efforts included partnering with Gov. Rick Snyder and the Michigan Economic Development Corporation on a weeklong mission to Europe in April 2014 to promote Detroit’s revitalized automotive industry. The trip was one of two missions to Italy last year and included numerous one-on-one meetings with government officials and automotive and advanced machining companies in Milan and Turin.

Maureen Krauss, vice president of Economic Development for the Chamber, said economic developers have noticed substantive interest from Italian companies — particularly those that work closely with FCA US LLC (formally Fiat Chrysler Automobiles).

“With the U.S. market emerging so strongly right now, Italian companies see great potential to bolster their revenue,” Krauss said. “They understand that locating near decision-makers and the epicenter of the automotive industry is key. Moving to the Detroit region gives them that access.”

Krauss said in addition to automotive suppliers, the Italy trip also focused on emerging opportunities to attract companies with ties to the aerospace, defense and agricultural industries to Southeast Michigan. The trip, she said, was as much a fact finding mission about Italian companies as it was marketing Detroit’s exit from bankruptcy to global investors.

“We’re finding that the questions about Detroit have in the past three years gone from ‘Oh my gosh,’ to ‘We hear there are good things happening. Can you tell us about it?’” Krauss said, explaining that northern Italy has dealt with similar economic challenges.

“These companies want to learn how they can take their expertise to the U.S. market,” she said.

In the coming year, the Chamber’s Business Attraction team will follow up with companies that expressed an interest in moving forward, to provide market intelligence research and customized site selection assistance.

“International companies know that if they want to be a global player, they have to check off the box that shows success in the United States,” Krauss said. “Our job is to make sure those companies have the most current information on what’s going on in Southeast Michigan.”