Michigan's Increasing Ties To China

Jun 3, 2014

China is quickly becoming a key export market for Michigan businesses, and not just for large manufacturers.

“They are looking for supplies of cherries, blueberries and wine. And they are even interested in buying vineyards,” says Jack Segal.

The retired diplomat is co-chair of the International Affairs Forum. The group is hosting a business and education conference this Thursday and Friday in Traverse City.

“We have to first learn the market. We have to learn from these experts how to get into the market. And then figure out how to, profitably for both sides, figure out how to make a deal,” Segal says.

Speakers at the conference will include the architect of General Motors strategy in China. The company went well beyond its own expectations in China, breaking records and selling more than 13 million cars in 2013.

There are also sessions to explore education and politics. The conference comes as Traverse City Area Public Schools gets set to launch a major cultural exchange program. Two other major educational institutions have also recently sent their leadership on trips to China, including Northwestern Michigan College and the Interlochen Center for the Arts.