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NAIAS, Chamber Help Tell Michigan’s Comeback Story

Auto Show Provides Perfect Platform to Market Detroit Region to Global Investors

The 2015 North American International Auto Show offered the perfect backdrop for the Detroit Regional Chamber to tell the economic comeback story of Michigan to a global business audience. In addition to the automotive industry, the state and region’s assets were on display during a week of business attraction events conducted by the Detroit Regional Chamber. And the result is encouraging.

Angela Fortino, business development representative for the Chamber, said the overall perception of Michigan from foreign investors remains largely positive.

“Michigan’s comeback was evident to a lot of the groups that we spoke with. They now want to bring delegations from foreign companies interested in exploring investment in the state,” she said, adding that companies in Austria, South Africa and Taiwan may plan trade missions to the region in the coming year.

From Jan. 12-16, the Chamber’s business attraction team hosted representatives from more than 20 automotive, real estate development, heavy machinery and engineering companies as well as representatives from the Chicago International Trade Commissioners Association (CITCA), a French delegation and a Chinese delegation.

Automotive Industry’s Comeback Key for Business Attraction

Fortino said the NAIAS is the perfect venue to market the region to international businesses in a short amount of time, especially as the Chamber builds its relationship with CITCA, a volunteer organization comprised of trade representatives from more than 40 foreign governments.

She said numerous questions throughout the week centered on the automotive industry’s outlook. Inquiries included what resources exist to expand operations in alternative energy, battery and energy storage in Southeast Michigan. The CITCA delegation also spent time during the week visiting Flint and the I-69 International Trade Corridor, learning about opportunities in the food processing/agricultural business sectors.

“CITCA witnessed a renewed excitement in Michigan. They were happy to see an upward trend in the economy,” Fortino said. “They know that Detroit is still the center of the automotive industry and to be successful, they have to have a presence here. The question they have now is whether there is an opportunity that fits for their clients.”

Other activities held in conjunction with NAIAS included:

  • Hosting Douglas George, consul general of Canada, for a tour of the NAIAS showroom floor.
  • Partnering with Delta Air Lines to host an investor reception with regional partners and prospect companies at the Delta Sky Lounge.
  • Partnering with MEDC in an automotive forum focused on the synergy of the U.S.-China auto industries held with the Chinese Council for Promotion of International Trade (CCPIT) Automotive Committee.
  • Hosting Jay Williams, U.S. Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Economic Development, for a tour of the NAIAS showroom floor.
  • Launching MICHauto’s #MichiganIsAuto social media campaign to increase awareness about the auto industry, including billboards on I-94 and I-75.

Fortino said the Chamber’s next steps include follow-up meetings with prospective companies and trade commissioners during the coming year.