When Dave Coulter was describing Oakland County’s location to a group of businesspeople in Sweden, he referenced Eminem.
Coulter, who is traveling this week to Stockholm and Munich, Germany, to promote the county and make connections, said he asked for a show of hands from those who know the Detroit rapper. It’s likely everyone there raised a hand, he said.
“It is amazing how well-known Eminem is around the world,” said Coulter, the Oakland County executive.
“I said, ‘And you remember that movie ‘8 Mile?’ Well, that’s us. That’s our southern border, that’s Detroit’s northern border.”
Coulter said, “their eyes lit up.”
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While Coulter didn’t go to Europe to talk about metro Detroit music and film references, the cultural reach of the Motor City did help him explain a bit about a county with a name that people from other parts of the world sometimes confuse with a city in California.
The fruits of the trip as of Tuesday included a joint statement of cooperation that aims to “promote innovation and sustainable growth in the mobility and advanced manufacturing industries” with Business Sweden, a public-private partnership that promotes Sweden and its businesses around the globe.
While Sweden might not spring immediately to mind for many when thinking of economic development, Coulter noted that 13 Swedish companies already operate in the county, and a trip to Stockholm and a “Mobility in Michigan” event at the residence of the US ambassador to Sweden offered an opportunity to connect with even more.
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As many as 35 businesses were represented, many of which are startups that are growing quickly. And for many companies in Sweden, the United States is seen as the ultimate target market, he said.
Building these relationships could lead to more investment in the county, which could mean more jobs, which is a win for the county, said Coulter, noting during a media briefing over Zoom on Tuesday that he’s confident the approximately $20,000 price tag for his team of five for the trip will be offset by the gains.
Coulter noted that Sweden and Michigan also have a lot in common, from a similar population size of more than 10 million each, to a location with coastlines and natural beauty.
“But more relevant today is our shared reputation for being a hub for advanced manufacturing, which is big business in Oakland County,” Coulter said in a statement.
Coulter noted during his media briefing that the Swedish-American Chambers of Commerce plans to hold an event in Oakland County next November. The group’s website lists its 2023 summit in Detroit (Florida and Arizona were recent locations), calling the summit a “key event to support and facilitate economic expansion and business between the United States and Sweden. Not only is the US Sweden’s largest trading partner outside the (European Union), Swedish companies also create over 350,000 job opportunities in the US In addition, Sweden is one of the largest investors per capita in the US”
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The current weeklong trip, which wraps up Saturday, includes meetings, networking and a presentation by Coulter and Oakland County Director of Economic Development Ingrid Tighe at a “Smart Mobility Forum” through SEMICON Europa 2022, which is connected to the massive Electronica Trade Fair. SEMICON “focuses on the development of semiconductor supply chains and is working to strengthen ties with the automotive industry,” according to a news release.
Contact Eric D. Lawrence: firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter: @_ericdlawrence. Become a subscriber.