World / US and Canada

'Speed dating' spurs Guangdong-Michigan business ties

By Paul Welitzkin in Detroit (China Daily) Updated: 2016-05-12 11:03

The ink was barely dry on the new sister state-province agreement between Michigan and Guangdong province when the two regions got down to the business of economic development.

Companies from Michigan and Guangdong engaged in a form of "speed dating" for commerce Wednesday in Detroit at the China (Guangdong)-US (Michigan) Economic & Commerce Forum that was organized by the Department of Commerce of Guangdong province with an assist from the Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC).

Noting that Michigan already had a significant cluster of Chinese companies in the state — more than 200 representing an investment of over $3 billion — Tony Vernaci, vice-president of the MEDC, said there was room for more cooperation.

"Our focus is on strengthening Michigan's global automotive leadership while also building on an excellent foundation of technology and research and development," he said.

"We have one purpose and that is to promote cooperation between China and Michigan," said Zou Xiaoming, commercial consul of China's Consulate General in Chicago. He noted that the value of trade between China and Michigan now exceeded $12 billion.

After speeches and an official welcome, match-making sessions were set up between companies from Guangdong and Michigan. They were given 30 minutes to see if there was a "match" before moving on to the next session.

"We came here to seek cooperation opportunities in the US," said Tom Tang, CEO of Supude, a division of Dongguan Superduper Group Co Ltd in Guangdong. His company makes cell phone accessories like ear pieces and cases and has annual sales of about $100 million.

Tang said the company wasn't necessarily looking for an export outlet since the market in America was "pretty well saturated".

"We are really seeking any new technology and ideas that we can develop down the road," Tang added.

Gerry Roston is the CEO of Civionics, an Ann Arbor-based University of Michigan startup that makes wireless sensing systems for manufacturers.

"Our system can tell you the current health of your manufacturing system and whether there is or could be a problem down the road," said Roston. "If there is a potential problem, you can determine the best time to shut down production to take care of it and minimize the downtime."

Roston is scheduled to travel to Shanghai next week to meet with a potential investor in China. "I'm really here to learn today," he said. "I want to get as much information as I can before next week."

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