Snyder touts benefits of foreign investment for Michigan

Mar 22, 2014

Governor Rick Snyder
Governor Rick Snyder

Governor Snyder says a new survey shows his efforts to attract more international investment in Michigan is paying off.

The “insourcing” survey cites Michigan for adding more than 250,000 private sector jobs since 2010, and 32,000 from foreign investment in 2011 alone –more than twice as many as any other state.

The survey found that the heads of multinational firms are cautiously bullish about doing business in the U.S., but things could be better.

“Optimism is on the rise, but there’s an underlying theme (that) there are things we need to work on if we’re going to attract our share of investment,” says Joel Walters of the professional services firm PWC, which conducted the survey.

Walters and other foreign investment champions say attracting international business is a fierce competition between nations and states. But they think Gov. Snyder is making all the right moves to attract more foreign investors to the state.

Snyder says getting rid of “job-killing” taxes like the Michigan Business Tax, and replacing it with a simpler corporate income tax, shows the state is serious about being investment-friendly. The same goes for tossing out more than 1,500 government regulations Snyder calls unnecessary.

“We’re cleaning it up, because a lot of them didn’t make sense,” Snyder says. “They were old, outdated. They were dumb.”

But Snyder says Michigan needs to work on filling the so-called “skills gap.” Some employers have complained they can’t find enough qualified employees to fill open positions, particularly in the skilled trades.

Snyder has worked hard to attract foreign investment in the state. He’s headed out on another trade mission in early April, when he’ll visit Germany and Italy. It will be Snyder’s seventh overseas trade mission as governor.

Attracting foreign firms is “all about building relationships,” Snyder says. “Trust is something you have to go out and earn.”

According to survey data, global companies employ more than 177,000 Michigan residents. The state ranks 12th in the nation for the number jobs provided by foreign firms.

Germany is Michigan’s leading foreign business investor, followed closely by Canada and Japan.