DB: Where are you?
CH: I’m at the Park Hyatt Chennai in India. Automation Alley does four trade missions a year, and one of them (is to India). We all met in New Delhi, and then split up halfway through the trip and reconvened in Mumbai.
DB: How’s the trip going?
CH: We’re here with eight different companies. These trade missions really help them see and connect with potential business partners. We set up specific meetings for the companies, so they’re meeting the right potential partners — whether in defense, aerospace, automotive, technology, or another business sector. One company from our region needed IT help, and another is expanding their aerospace opportunities. We expect many business ties to come from this trip.
DB: Are trade missions effective?
CH: From our perspective, (yes), very much so, when you consider $1.1 billion in new revenue for Michigan companies has been generated from our trade missions over the last nine years. In turn, that’s resulted in 6,000 new jobs in Michigan. We also bring in foreign direct investment, meaning foreign companies can set up an office at our headquarters for two to three months to test the waters, so to speak. Quite a few stay and start up operations in our region.
DB: What’s India like?
CH: The hotels I’ve seen are gorgeous. We also have drivers, which seems expensive, but it’s very reasonable when you consider you’re in a foreign country, there’s a lot of traffic congestion, very few stop lights or stop signs, and lots of roundabouts. I couldn’t imagine driving here. Tomorrow we meet with our Automation Alley counterpart in central India, and then we meet with some industrial conglomerates, (along) with one of our partner associations.