Midwest Dutch consulate stays open
The Midwest Dutch consulate won’t be closing after all.
The Dutch minister of foreign affairs announced in June that the Dutch consulate in Chicago, the only Dutch consulate in the Midwest, would close, according to a Michigan Legislature announcement.
Michigan politicians and business leaders reacted swiftly to the news, urging the Dutch government to reconsider its decision.
Rep. Joe Haveman, R-Holland, and Sen. Arlan Meekhof, R-West Olive, introduced resolutions in the Michigan Legislature, highlighting support for the location in Chicago and asking the government to re-assess its plans for closure.
Lieutenant Gov. Brian Calley also transmitted a letter urging reconsideration of the decision.
The outreach by the Michigan leaders apparently helped to change the minds of the minister of foreign affairs and Dutch Parliament, as they’ve agreed to keep the Chicago consulate open.
“Closing the Midwest consulate could have been a serious setback with regards to the work that has been done to strengthen the economic relationship between Michigan and the Netherlands,” Calley said. “I’m pleased with the decision to retain the consulate and look forward to a continuing prosperous partnership.”
Haveman said West Michigan is “incredibly proud of its Dutch ancestry, and we want to continue its influence here. The relationship Michigan shares with the Netherlands is partly about economic growth, but it is also about a heritage and legacy these communities take great pride in, and we never want to see end.”
Calley, Meekhof and House Speaker Jase Bolger traveled to the Netherlands in April as part of a trade mission organized by the West Michigan Global Initiative.
The initiative brings together business leaders, investors and public sector professionals from Michigan and the Netherlands to bridge the gap between global markets and the local economy.
WMGI worked with Calley, Haveman and Meekhof to lead the effort in keeping the consulate open.