Snyder looks to bring foreign businesses to Michigan

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Gov. Rick Snyder said enticing foreign entrepreneurs to invest in Michigan will be key to pulling the economy out of a one-state recession. Snyder appeared at the World Affairs Council of Western Michigan’s 62nd Annual Dinner following his trade mission to Asia.

Michigan, which was once a pioneer in the global marketplace through work with the automotive, furniture, chemical and pharmaceutical industries, recently ranked 50th nationwide in future growth expectations.

Snyder plans to address this by asking a simple question: “How can we be that landing place for people who want to come to our country to do business?”

Snyder said complacency was the largest contributing factor to the state’s current standing in international presence, citing a habitual isolation from foreign marketplaces. International partnerships through educational, economic and cultural exchanges are what the governor said will be the first steps toward long-term job creation.

“Good business people do not do things for transactions,” he said. “They do things for relations.”

Snyder also emphasized the need to leverage the EB-5 immigration program, which helps immigrants who are willing to invest a minimum of $500,000 into a business that employs at least 10 people to obtain green cards.

His response to those who disagree with promoting a program that encourages immigration to the U.S. is to remind them of companies such as Meijer and Dow Chemical, both founded by immigrants and providing thousands of jobs to Michigan residents.

During his trip to Asia, Snyder said he encountered multiple businesses looking at Michigan as a potential landing spot for their business endeavors. One such company is Tokyo Rope, a Japanese manufacturer of carbon fiber cables for bridges.

Snyder mentioned that sustainable investment will come not from creating short-term financial incentives for foreign business owners, but by promoting the inherent qualities of Michigan’s business environment: talent, cost of doing business, real estate and a great quality of life.

Snyder also stood by his decision to eliminate the Michigan Business Tax as part of the business/income tax overhaul he signed into effect earlier this year, which created additional income taxes for pensions and other retirement income. The intention of taking the burden off 100,000 Michigan businesses was that those companies would then be free to hire new employees.

The surge in employers using overtime hours as opposed to new hires has been a growing trend due to the volatile financial situation of many companies, he said. It’s a trend he would like to see reversed.

Snyder touched briefly on President Obama’s American Jobs Act, a $450 billion jobs bill that would encourage small businesses to hire new employees and prevent corporate tax loopholes. While he does not endorse the bill, Snyder said he supports some of the ideas it brings to the table.

He noted that there needs to be less divisiveness within the political system, starting with a shift of focus in Michigan from what went wrong in the past to breaking down barriers and looking at new opportunities for the future.

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