State Trade Missions Helping Northern Michigan Companies Expand Globally
The owners of Baabaazuzu in Lake Leelanau were part of a group of six Michigan businesses to join Governor Rick Snyder on a trade mission to Canada. Sue and Kevin Burns say they're already selling some of their unique wool clothing and accessories in Canada and hope the trade mission will help them expand their business there.
"It is our goal to have a greater presence in the Canadian market and now we have the tools in place to make that happen," said Sue Burns, CEO and founder of Baabaazuzu. "The retailers we were put in touch with all plan to carry Baabaazuzu in their stores in 2013."
The trade mission included stops in Toronto and Montreal. In Toronto Governor Snyder officially opened the new Michigan Trade Office.
"Canada is an important and viable market with great demand for Michigan products and services across multiple sectors," Snyder said. "This trade mission will open doors for these companies by helping them identify and enter into new relationships here."
The Michigan Trade Office provides a physical presence for Michigan with office space and staffing provided through a collaborative program of the Great Lakes Council of Governors and the Michigan Economic Development Corp. The office will help Michigan companies to research, identify and capitalize on market opportunities in a broad range of industry sectors across Canada.
Canada, Michigan's largest trading partner, offers enormous growth opportunities for Michigan businesses:
- Michigan is the top state in the U.S. for exports to Canada, with Michigan companies exporting $23.4 billion in goods and services to Canada in 2011.
- Michigan exports to Canada represent 46 percent of the state's worldwide total.
- There are 243 Canadian-owned companies in Michigan that employ 22,500 Michiganders in 702 locations.
The Global Trade Alliance of Northern Michigan, a program of the Northwest Michigan Council of Governments, is organizing a trade mission to Western Canada in the spring. Companies interested in learning more about participating in this or other trade missions are encouraged to contact Chris Bosio by email firstname.lastname@example.org.
The state is also working to help companies do business in China. Rec Boat Holdings (Four Winns) of Cadillac was one of twenty Michigan companies that participated in the Governor’s September trade mission to China. During that trip the Governor officially opened the Pure Michigan Trade Center in Shanghai which provides assistance with market research, distributor and agent searches, and in country business travel support.
“We found the mission to be extremely beneficial as it provided us the opportunity to gain vital marine market knowledge that would not have been possible otherwise," said Bruce Baron, International Sales Director for Rec Boat Holdings. "We have signed a multi-year agreement with our dealer in Shanghai, who has 6 locations covering most of the key marine markets in China. Their first year commitment is in excess of $1,000,000."
Michigan is the nation’s eighth largest exporting state and global trade is responsible for thousands of jobs here. Michigan Economic Development Corporation is committed to increasing Michigan's exporting opportunities by providing resources for businesses to help them identify and enter key emerging global markets.
In addition to international trade offices in China and Canada, the exporting program offers expertise and connections to a wealth of counseling services on everything from market research and finance to logistics and trade law. The exporting program also provides grants to small business, partially supported by the Small Business Administration's State Trade Export Promotion (STEP) program. STEP funds cover 50% of the costs of export marketing operations such as foreign trade missions and shows, market research, and translation services. Companies may qualify for up to $12,000.
Visit michiganadvantage.org/export to sign up.
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- Ty Wessell, Leelanau County Commissioner