The Cuban Chamber of Commerce has chosen Troy, Michigan, as its third location and national headquarters.
Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Dana McAllister says the choice was a natural fit because of affinities between Detroit and Havana, a significant presence of Cuban-Americans in Michigan, and support from the Oakland County government and city of Troy.
The Chamber will network with Michigan businesses that would like to trade with Cuba, following re-establishment of diplomatic relations between the U.S. and Cuba. Last week, the two countries announced re-opening of embassies for the first time in over 50 years. McAllister says there are already some opportunities for business relations in areas such as agricultural products, medical equipment and supplies, and alternative energy.
"With our chamber, we're going to continue to promote our business organizations, our members, so that when the iron curtain falls, or parts, so to speak, they'll be ready to get started right away," says McAllister.
The Chamber will be sponsoring programs in the community, such as its Automation Alley presentation "Cuba, the New Frontier" on August 6.
McAllister says support from the Oakland County government was key in the choice of Michigan as its headquarters. She says the state of New York has dedicated $35 million to relations with five countries, including Cuba. The chamber is hoping for continuing strong support from the state of Michigan.
Michigan has about 9,800 Cuban-American residents. Many of them came for services provided by a refugee center in Lansing in the 1990's, during the last wave of Cuban migration to the U.S.
The other two Cuban Chamber of Commerce locations are Miami and Washington, D.C.