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SAE World Congress Provides Chamber Backdrop to Promote Detroit Regional Businesses

SAE World Congress Provides Chamber Backdrop to Promote Detroit Regional Businesses

The world spotlight shone brightly on automotive and manufacturing suppliers in the Detroit region during the SAE 2015 World Congress at COBO Center in Detroit in April. As part of the week’s events, the Detroit Regional Chamber’s Business Attraction team and the Michigan Economic Development Corporation hosted eight international delegations and met with 200 representatives from automotive-related companies looking for opportunities to export and/or expand into the U.S. market.

Maureen Krauss, vice president of economic development at the Chamber, said many of the delegates visited Detroit for the first time and were curious to learn about the regional market. Delegations included the Austria Auto Delegation, Business Upper Austria, China Technology Consortium, Foshan, Czech Republic, Mexico, Taiwan and the Torino Chamber of Commerce.

In an effort to connect the delegates with the Chamber’s public and private partners, the Chamber hosted a private reception on April 22. One of those partners, Jack Johns, senior economic development specialist at the Macomb County Department of Planning and Economic Development, said events like the networking reception are invaluable when it comes to marketing Southeast Michigan to an international audience.

“It’s hard for us to reach all of these international businesses without the help of the Chamber,” Johns said. “Instead of taking up the delegates’ time with numerous one-on-one meetings, the networking reception allows all the economic development partners to meet with several countries’ worth of businesses all in one evening.”

Rochelle Freeman, business development manager for the city of Southfield, agreed, stating that the reception “opens the door” for her to meet new investors looking to move to the region.

“It gives us a chance to share information about our community and provide different options that are available to companies looking for certain sites,” she said. “It’s about exposure and building relationships.”

Freeman said by collaborating with regional partners, the city is able to share resources and meet with companies that it normally would not due to budget constraints.

“We would not be able to make these connections if it weren’t for the work of the Detroit Chamber,” she said.

Jan Fried, director of east coast operations for Czech Invest, an investment and business development agency specializing in attracting U.S. business expansion to the Czech Republic, said he attended the reception to share information about opportunities in the country. Currently, Fried said, Czech Republic is seeing a lot of growth from Detroit companies expanding overseas. As the No. 2 country in the world for the number of cars manufactured per capita, Fried said Czech companies, too, are setting their sights on expanding their niche in Michigan.

“They know that Detroit is the center of the world for automotive, so they want to be here to expand their portfolio of customers,” he said.