- Associated Press - Friday, March 28, 2014

LANSING, Mich. (AP) - Gov. Rick Snyder will depart Saturday for his second trade mission to Europe with a focus on promoting Michigan’s auto industry.

The weeklong trip to Italy and Germany will include meetings with executives from companies such as Fiat and Eissmann Automotive, Snyder said in an interview. He said he hopes the trip will produce “continued headquarters expansions” and research and development growth.

“It’s an opportunity to both talk about how we can have more exports going to Germany, but also more foreign direct investment back in Michigan,” he said.

More than 350 German companies and more than 40 Italian companies are located in Michigan, employing about 72,000 people, according to the Snyder administration. Trade between Michigan and Germany totaled $5.9 billion in 2013, while trade between Michigan and Italy totaled $1.65 billion.

The Republican governor said this last European trade trip in 2012 resulted in German engine parts manufacturer Mahle Industries building its North American headquarters in Farmington Hills. And the Michigan Advanced Technician Training program in mechanical engineering and information technology stemmed from visiting an apprenticeship program at the Heller Group that year, Snyder said.

Michigan is home to roughly 370 research and development centers that account for at least 70 percent of total U.S. investment, Snyder said.

“We always want higher,” he added.

Snyder and his delegation will travel to Milan and Turin, Italy, where they plan to meet with executives from companies including brakes manufacturer Brembo S.p.A and Poltrona Frau Group, a furniture maker that produces car interiors. In Stuttgart and Dusseldorf, Germany, they plan to meet with representatives from companies including 3-D printer Voxeljet AG and Mann+Hummel GmbH, a filter systems manufacturer.

Snyder will also meet with local politicians in both countries, calling the trip a chance “to clear up old information” in foreign media and promote Michigan’s recovering economy.

“If you look at most people’s perception of an area, quite often it may lag five or 10 years behind what’s actually going on,” Snyder said. “Michigan had a really hard last decade, but we’re the comeback state now. But how many people have had the opportunity to have it presented to them in an appropriate fashion?”

The delegation traveling with Snyder includes the state’s Senior Automotive Adviser Nigel Francis and representatives from the Michigan Economic Development Corporation.

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