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MDARD Director Gary McDowell, DNR Director Daniel Eichinger & MEDC CEO Quentin L. Messer, Jr. Welcomes Consul General of Finland in Los Angeles, Ambassador Okko-Pekka Salmimies to Michigan 

Director McDowell and Consul General Salmimies will spend three days touring Michigan’s food and agricultural trade opportunities and exploring international partnership prospects in bioeconomy and smart shipping

LANSING, MI - Today, Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (MDARD) Director Gary McDowell welcomed Ambassador Okko-Pekka Salmimies, Consul General of Finland in Los Angeles, and Finnish business and research delegation to Michigan's Upper Peninsula. Consul General Salmimies arrival starts a three-day tour across the state, which includes showcasing the state’s innovative food and agricultural practices, unique international partnership opportunities within the industry and how Michigan is competing for good-paying food and agricultural jobs.

The Finnish delegation looks forward to exploring further cooperation possibilities with partners in Michigan also in the areas of bioeconomy and smart shipping. Finland is Europe’s most forested country and has an ambitious goal to become the first fossil-free advanced economy by 2035. Finland’s forest industry has paired long-held forestry traditions with innovative new wood-based products. There is a lot of potential for cooperation between Finland and Michigan also in the marine autonomy sector. Business Finland (Finnish government organization for trade, travel and investment promotion) and Finnish company Wärtsilä are already members of Michigan-based Smart Ships Coalition. The delegation looks forward to visiting USCGC MACKINAW Icebreaker during the trip.

“I am honored to have Consul General Salmimies visiting Michigan and to show him the bounty of opportunity available in the Mitten State,” said Director McDowell. “We have been working hard to ensure that ‘Made in Michigan’ is known globally when it comes to food and agriculture. Our partnership with Finland showcases the power and importance of cultivating our international relationships. Together, we represent the future and bold possibilities of our industry.”

The tour will start in Houghton on Tuesday, May 17th and conclude in Dearborn on Thursday May 19th. Tour stops include visiting Finlandia University, Michigan Technological University’s Great Lakes Research Center and College of Forest Resources and Environmental Science, Michigan State University’s Mass Timber STEM Building, Ford Research and Innovation Center in Dearborn, USCGC MACKINAW Icebreaker and Port of Detroit, among others.

“I look forward to travelling to Michigan, which many Finnish-Americans call home. Finns first arrived in Upper Peninsula after the Civil War, and it was a major destination for Finns during the peak years of migration. Therefore, it is no surprise Finland has strong links to the Great Lakes State still today. Since we signed the Memorandum of Understanding, our research institutes and industries have started collaboration in forest bioeconomy, maritime and ports, marine autonomy, batteries and automotive sectors. The aim of this collaboration is to establish top-notch bilateral research and development co-innovation projects as well as industrial partnerships, and work together to accelerate the transition to a green and sustainable economy.” explained Consul General Salmimies.

The Consul General’s trip is being hosted by MDARD in coordination with the Michigan Economic Development Corporation and the Michigan Department of Natural Resources. The Finnish delegation led by Consul General Salmimies has been organized in collaboration with the Embassy of Finland in Washington D.C. and Business Finland, and includes leading Finnish research organizations, universities and companies.

“Team Michigan is honored to host our esteemed partners and friends from Finland this week as we demonstrate the pure opportunity that exists throughout both of our state’s wonderful peninsulas,” said Michigan Economic Development Corporation CEO Quentin L. Messer, Jr. “As home to the greatest concentration of Finnish Americans in the U.S., we are proud to build on our cross-continental relationship as we create new opportunities for our businesses and citizens to grow and thrive. We look forward to continuing to strengthen our cultural and economic ties to drive the next best chapter of collaboration between the Republic of Finland and the state of Michigan."

“We are excited to further Michigan’s creative collaboration with Finland,” said Michigan Department of Natural Resources Director Dan Eichinger. “This visit will build on the existing agreement the state of Michigan has with Finland to capitalize on our common forestry knowledge and advance our shared commitment to sustainable use of natural resources. Like Finland, Michigan is blessed with an abundance of healthy forests. Our partnership will expand markets and propel forest bioeconomy in the state.”

In March of 2020, Governor Gretchen Whitmer and Finland’s Minister of Economic Affairs Mika Lintilä signed a Memorandum of Understanding to increase collaboration and innovation between Michigan and Finland related to clean technology industries, as well as autonomous energy storage and battery technologies.