LANSING, Mich. – Gov. Rick Snyder will travel to Toronto for a daylong visit on Monday where he will speak to the Council of the Great Lakes Region and meet with business executives and government officials of the neighboring province of Ontario.
“Canada is Michigan’s most important trading partner, both in imports and exports, and we share many common economic values and concerns,” Snyder said. “We are working to further strengthen our relationships with the provincial government as well as seeking new business investment in Michigan by Canadian companies. Our improved business climate is a story we are taking everywhere we go and it is opening up new opportunities for Michigan.”
Michigan led all states with more than $25 billion in exports to Canada in 2012. The country accounts for 46 percent of the state’s total worldwide exports.
“We cannot overstate just how important this country is to the economy of our state,” Snyder said. “More than neighbors, we are partners in a very real sense both for geographic and economic reasons.”
The Council of the Great Lakes Region is a new, binational regional organization that enhances regional collaboration and cross-border integration by bringing together stakeholders from the private, public, and not-for-profit sectors to advance effective, coordinated, and broadly shared responses to the region’s common challenges. It is incorporated in both Canada and the United States.
Snyder will discuss the use of partnerships between the public and private sectors to address needs through reduced cost, revenue generation and economic development. Improved transportation infrastructure is a focus of regional interest. Last year, Snyder and Canadian officials laid the groundwork for the New International Trade Crossing, a modern, strategically located bridge between Detroit and Windsor that is vital to a strong trade relationship between Michigan and Canada.
Michigan exports to Canada include transportation equipment, machinery, oil and gas, primary metal manufacturing, chemicals and food products. Transportation equipment sales totaled $14.2 billion, or more than 55 percent of all Michigan exports to Canada.
More than 240 Canadian-owned companies employ 22,523 Michiganders in 700-plus locations across the state. The largest include Martinrea International with 1,300 employees here; Ballard Power Systems, 1,100; Grand Trunk Western Railroad, 1,100; Magna Mirrors of America, 1,058; Magna Seating of America, 965; and Guelph Tool Sales, 900.
More than 80 Michigan companies have operations in Canada including Auto-Owners Insurance, Dart Container, Dow Chemical, General Motors, Kellogg, Lear Corp., Steelcase, Stryker and Whirlpool.