Waterford, Michigan -- Oakland County's economic development team is following up on the success of a recent trade mission to China with a return trip today in hopes of attracting foreign investment and jobs to the county.
County Executive L. Brooks Patterson said it is important for Oakland County to remain aggressive in its pursuit of foreign investment. The county has a strong foreign business presence, with 850 foreign-owned firms from 37 countries. Deputy County Executive Matthew Gibb spent 10 days in China in September and met with more than 20 life science and automotive companies in four cities including Shanghai and Changchun (pop. 3.3 million people) and three provinces. Changchun is the auto capital of China.
"As the marketplace becomes more global it is imperative that we sell Oakland County as a place where success and quality of life meet and we can only do that in-person," Patterson said. "It's all about relationships."
The trip is part of the Emerging Sectors® strategy, which seeks to diversify the county's economy. The program has resulted in more than $1.8 billion of investment and 39,000 new and retained jobs since its inception in 2004.
"China presents an opportunity for us to grow the Emerging Sectors program through investment from China to Oakland County," Gibb said. "In these times, it is the right thing to do to welcome that investment."
Senior Business Development Representative Alan Weber, who left for Beijing today, is joining a delegation from the Detroit Regional Chamber, Automation Alley and the Miller Canfield law firm for the week-long trip. Weber is attending the 2012 Automotive Industry Action Group Leadership and Suppliers forum, a gathering of 500 auto suppliers from China and around the world. The county's key economic development marketing materials are translated into Chinese, German, Italian, Japanese and Korean.
Weber will be conducting follow-up meetings with many of the companies Gibb first contacted. Three Chinese delegations also have scheduled meetings here with Oakland County officials in November and December as a result of Gibb's trip.
Oakland County has an impressive case to make for Chinese investment. More than 25 percent of the approximately 44,500 Chinese residents in Michigan live in Oakland County. There are about two dozen other Chinese firms operating in Oakland County. The county's 28 public school districts all offer Mandarin under a program Patterson launched in 2007. The American Chinese School of Greater Detroit is located in Birmingham.
In August, Fuyao Automotive NA, a Chinese automotive company, promised $100,000 investment at its Lake Orion facility, retaining 97 jobs and creating two new jobs.