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Snyder's China Plan Hits Paydirt

By Carol Cain
CBS62 Senior Producer and Host "Michigan Matters"

In less than six months, Gov. Rick Snyder has flipped the state's gameplan toward China which is gaining applause from C. Peter Theut, Robert Ficano and others. Snyder included China in his maiden trade mission to Asia last fall and also traveled to Iowa recently to meet China's Vice President.

"Not having the state's highest ranking elected official with you has been a major problem," Theut said referring to former Gov. Jennifer Granholm who refused to visit the Asian country during her two terms in office. That caused problems for Theut and others trying to build two-way economic bridges. "I was with Gov. Snyder on his trip and saw the difference he made being there," Theut said during taping of "Michigan Matters." Watch on-demand video of the episode.

Ann Arbor-based China Bridge helps American companies seeking to establish or expand their presence in China and also assists Chinese companies seeking to invest or enter the U.S. market.

Theut also emphasized that Snyder's recognition of the importance of China to Michigan's economy was encouraging for those in the private sector who have been attempting to establish cultural and business connections. China Bridge is planing a two week visit this spring to six Chinese cities with investors interested in Michigan.

Ficano, a Democrat who has been on six trade missions to China, agreed the Republican governor is shaking things up. "It evens the playing field when other states like Ohio, California, Illinois have all been there with their governors at the same time we have not," said Ficano. "China has one-fifth of the world's population. They are simply too big to ignore," Ficano said when asked what he says to critics about the communist country.

Doug Smith, senior vice president of Michigan Economic Development Corp (MEDC), the state's economic arm, said Michigan has great opportunities through agriculture, autos and tourism. "With more direct flights from Detroit to Asia and technical centers the auto industry has here too means more opportunities for leisure travel as well," he said. Which why the state's award winning "Pure Michigan" campaign will include more aggressive efforts targeted to China, Asia and other places, Smith added.

Others appearing on the "Michigan Matters" China show: Denise Yee Grim, executive director of the Asian Pacific American Chamber of Commerce; Frank Lavin, CEO of Export Now; Lisa Gray, president of the Chinese Association of Greater Detroit; and Tom Watkins, CEO of TDW & Associates.

Watch "Michigan Matters" at its new time, 11:30 a.m. on CBS62!

Carol Cain is the Emmy winning senior producer and host of CBS62's "Michigan Matters." She writes about business and politics in Sunday's Detroit Free Press. She can be reached at 248-355-7126 or

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