Advance Notice: Briefs

Whitmer to lead investment trip to Europe, speak at World Economic Forum

By: - January 11, 2023 2:36 pm

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer speaks at a rally at the Flint Farmers’ Market on Oct. 28, 2022. (Andrew Roth/Michigan Advance)

Attracting business investments that will translate into jobs for Michiganders is the stated purpose for a five-day investment mission to Norway and Switzerland next week by Gov. Gretchen Whitmer.

In making the announcement on Wednesday, Whitmer emphasized that the focus of the trip will be on advancing Michigan’s next-generation of automotive manufacturing and clean energy technologies.

“The world is increasingly interconnected and it’s important for leaders in other countries to hear that Michigan is a key player on the global stage, especially as we work to lead the future of mobility, bring supply chains home, and become energy independent with more clean, domestic supply,” said Whitmer. “Let’s show the world what we have to offer, build on our leadership in cars, chips, and clean energy, and prove that the best manufacturing in the world happens right here in Michigan.” 

Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp | Ross Williams/Georgia Recorder

The trip also likely will feed buzz about Whitmer’s presidential ambitions. It is the first economic development visit to Europe under her administration, and will conclude with stops in Switzerland, including Davos, where Whitmer will attend the World Economic Forum Annual Meeting as a member of a bipartisan group of governors including Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp and Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker.

The governor was invited by organizers to speak on a panel, “The Return of Manufacturing,” joining executives from the mobility and semiconductor industries. 

While in Norway, Whitmer will be joined by Michigan Economic Development Corp. CEO Quentin L. Messer Jr. and other MEDC officials as she meets with company and government leaders in Oslo to discuss investment opportunities and collaboration in global industries, including mobility and hydrogen. 

“As the most abundant chemical element, hydrogen can play a significant role in accelerating Michigan’s clean-energy transition away from fossil fuels in the coming decades,” said Messer. “There has been a federal focus on hydrogen and Michigan fully capitalizing on this transition has the potential to create good-paying jobs for our fellow friends and neighbors across both peninsulas.”

In September 2022, Michigan announced it would be among seven Midwestern states teaming up to accelerate the development of hydrogen as a clean-energy alternative. 

The Midwestern Hydrogen Coalition, which also includes Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Minnesota, Ohio and Wisconsin, is likely to be a key resource to help achieve the goals laid out in Whitmer’s MI Healthy Climate Plan, which identifies the necessary steps for Michigan to reach carbon neutrality by 2050 with a prioritization on actions from now until 2030. 

According to a press release, between 2018 and 2021, Michigan companies exported a total of $895 million in goods and materials to Switzerland and Norway, with transportation equipment as the top Michigan export to both countries. 

Meanwhile, eight foreign direct investment projects were created in Michigan by Swiss and Norwegian companies between 2018 and 2022, resulting in a total of 161 jobs. Those projects generated a total capital investment of $39.8 million. 

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Jon King
Jon King

Jon King has been a journalist for more than 35 years. He is the Past President of the Michigan Associated Press Media Editors Association and has been recognized for excellence numerous times, most recently in 2021 with the Best Investigative Story by the Michigan Association of Broadcasters. He is also an adjunct faculty member at Cleary University. Jon and his family live in Howell, where he also serves on the Board of Directors for the Livingston Diversity Council.