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Snyder wraps up investment mission to Europe

Productive meetings bolster Michigan’s business relationships

Friday, April 4, 2014

DUSSELDORF, Germany – Gov. Rick Snyder on Friday concluded a weeklong investment mission to Italy and Germany with a final stop in Dusseldorf, a sprawling international business and financial center in western Germany. Joined by a delegation of Michigan economic development and government leaders, Snyder toured a WKW-Group manufacturing plant and met with the top executive of Hugo Benzing, a supplier to the automotive and aerospace industries.

“Our meetings throughout the week with Italian and German business executives focused on the next chapter of cooperation and foreign investment in Michigan,” said Snyder. “This week has been highly productive in deepening and strengthening significant relationships with businesses bringing investments, expanded facilities and jobs to Michigan.”

The Snyder-led Michigan delegation includes Michael Finney, president of Michigan Economic Development Corp.; Nigel Francis, the state’s senior automotive adviser; state Rep. Frank Foster, chair of the House Commerce Committee; and officials from regional economic development groups from Detroit, southwest Michigan, Grand Rapids and Ann Arbor.

The day began with Snyder and Christian Benzing, CEO of Hugo Benzing, discussing the recently announced $4.7 million manufacturing project in Lyon Township, Mich., expected to create 37 new jobs. Oakland County MichWorks! will support the project with $190,000 in workforce development funds. Hugo Benzing manufactures a product range of locking parts, wire forms and precision punched parts.

The delegation then traveled to nearby Velbert to tour the WKW-Group’s aluminum billet production plant and extruded products and surface finishing facility. In November 2013, the WKW-Group bought Portage, Mich.-based Bowers Manufacturing in what the company called a “strategic acquisition” to extend its reach in the U.S. aluminum extrusion business. Extrusion is a key process in the automotive industry by which metal is pressed by forcing it through a die.

WKW-Group is considering a second production facility in the U.S. to manufacture aluminum roof rail systems for domestic as well as European and Japanese original equipment manufacturer facilities. 

"We made the case that Michigan is the smart business location to grow a manufacturing company and create new jobs," said Snyder. "The relationship between Michigan and WKW was strengthened by our visit and I look forward to pursuing new opportunities with the company that will benefit all of us.”

Italian and German companies play an important role in the Michigan economy. The economic partnership is vital to ongoing growth of the Michigan economy as evident by the following:

  • There are 350 Germany companies in Michigan.
  • Total Michigan-Germany foreign trade for 2013 was nearly $5.9 billion.
  • There are 40 Italian companies.
  • Total Michigan-Italy foreign trade for 2013 was $1.65 billion.
  • 72,000 Michiganders are employed by German- and Italian-owned companies operating in the state. These companies represent a wide range of industries, but are heavily concentrated in advanced automotive manufacturing and research and development.

While in Germany earlier this week, Snyder announced that voxeljet, a leading provider of high-speed, large-format 3-D printers, will locate its first U.S. facility in Canton, Mich. The service center is expected to come online later this year and will create 15 to 20 direct high-tech local manufacturing jobs.

The weeklong trip marks the Snyder administration’s second mission to Italy and Germany, and 10th investment mission since taking office in January 2011. Other missions led by Snyder or Lt. Gov. Brian Calley have been to Japan, China, South Korea, the Netherlands, Brazil, Mexico, Israel and Canada.



European Investment Mission Highlights:

Monday, March 31 – Milan, Italy: Plant tour of Burgola OEB Industriale, a manufacturer of socket screws and special fasteners for heavy duty applications. The company maintains a warehouse and distribution operation in Canton, and is considering a new manufacturing site in southeastern Michigan.

Tuesday, April 1 – Turin, Italy: Meeting with senior executives of Fiat, Comau, Amet, AEC Italia, SAET Group, Satiz, Reply, Co.Mec, Vigel S.p.a. and Teorosi Group. Comau has

headquarters in Southfield and production facilities in Royal Oak and Novi.

Wednesday, April 2 – Stuttgart, Germany: Gov. Snyder announces voxeljet, a leading provider of high-speed, large-format 3-D printers, will locate its first U.S. facility in Canton, Mich. The company’s first U.S. service center is expected to come online in the third quarter of this year and will create 15 to 20 direct high-tech local manufacturing jobs during the first three years of the project. The service center will allow voxeljet to print on-demand parts, molds, cores and models for automotive and other industrial customers based on designs produced using 3-D computer-aided design, or CAD, software.