Gov. Rick Snyder: Michigan establishes innovation centers with visiting China delegation to boost investment

Chinese dinner photo

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

DETROIT – Gov. Rick Snyder Tuesday welcomed a delegation of senior Chinese government officials from Guangdong Province and its City of Shenzhen, as both sides signed six memorandums of understanding designed to boost two-way direct investment, and established the Michigan-Shenzhen Trade, Investment and Innovation Cooperation Center.

Among the memorandums signed during the visit was a sister state agreement with the Guangdong Province, the first agreement of its kind to be signed between the state of Michigan and a province of China since 1982.

The delegation included Politburo Member and CPC Secretary of Guangdong province Hu Chunhua, Chinese Ambassador to the United States Cui Tiankai, and Shenzhen Mayor Xu Qin. Joining Snyder were Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan, U.S. Consul General to Guangzhou Charles Bennett, and members of the Michigan Economic Development Corporation.

During the signing ceremony, Snyder spoke of how the agreements, the new trade, investment and cooperation center, and the recently established Michigan-China Innovation Center all serve to further enhance the goal of increasing foreign direct investment from Chinese businesses and investors. In addition, the partnerships help create new opportunities for exchanges around innovation and product development between Michigan and China.

“Michigan was one of the first states to begin a formal relationship with China, and we are committed to a partnership that allows that to thrive,” Snyder said. “The unique vision that these agreements and innovation centers serve will add to Michigan’s already unprecedented commitment to helping businesses and people in both of our countries.”

The Michigan Strategic Fund authorized $5 million in March to create the Michigan-China Innovation Center, a nonprofit designed to boost direct investment in the state from Chinese companies. Brian Connors, formerly the China business development manager for the MEDC, serves as the center’s executive director.

The center will work closely with MEDC to commercialize research and invest into conduits. Funds from the 21st Century Jobs Fund will support operation of the center for five years, including startup costs, leasing of office space and travel, MEDC Chief Executive Officer Steve Arwood said.

“The center will focus on relationship development, management and identifying leads and getting them to the point of real opportunities for investment,” Arwood said. “MCIC will provide the critical support necessary to close deals that will ultimately result in the creation of jobs in Michigan.”

During trip to China in August 2015, Snyder signed formal cooperative agreements with the provinces of Guangdong, Sichuan, Hubei and Zhejiang, as well as the city of Chongqing. These regions already are home to auto companies and suppliers and support numerous connections to Michigan’s automotive industry.

Both the MOUs and innovation centers are intended to support more of those connections, as well as cultural exchanges and tourism.