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Michigan leaders seek business partnerships with Turkey

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Michigan and Turkey share a passion for cars, spend a lot of time farming, love entertaining visitors and both have a close connection with water.

More than 50 Michigan leaders went to Turkey earlier this month for a four-day conference titled the “Turkey-Michigan Forum: University-Industry Collaboration and R&D Trends.” Attendees came from the private sector, public sector and academia.

The Prima Civitas Foundation (PCF), an economic development corporation in Lansing, the Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC) and the International Business Center of the Michigan State University Broad College of Business co-hosted the event with the Turkish Resource Center of North America (TRCNA), the Turkish Ministry of Economy and the Turkish Exporters’ Association, among other Turkish institutions.

Conference attendees discussed a number of topics pertinent to both Michigan and Turkey, including food production, connections between education and industry, water and energy security, government and industry partnerships, trends in auto manufacturing and trends in environmental and international law.

At the forum, representatives from both regions signed five Memorandums of Understandings (MOUs), establishing partnerships that will ease future trade in the garment and textile, automotive and mineral and metal industries.

MLive reports:

“There are few places on the planet that can replicate Michigan’s ability to manufacture high-end automobiles from start to finish,” said Steve Webster, PCF president and CEO. “The largest export in Turkey is auto components. There have got to be ways to work together synergistically to grow both.” That’s what interested Automation Alley, a southeast Michigan technology business organization. There’s a large demand in Turkey for automotive supplies, clean renewable energy applications, medical equipment and defense supplies, said Noel Nevshehir, the organization’s director of international business services.

Nevshehir also spoke about the importance of training students in design, engineering and manufacturing:

“We talked about ways in which both countries can enhance our respective region's workforce skills and global talent,” he said. “We seem to think we’re the only country that has a challenge in recruiting global talent … it’s actually a global phenomenon.”

The University of Michigan, Wayne State University, Michigan State University and Western Michigan University were among the Michigan schools represented at the conference.

In a letter published in the event brochure, Mehmet Buyukeksi, the president of the Turkish Exporters Assembly, noted that Turkey has the youngest population of any European nation and must nourish an “entrepreneurial and innovative dynamic generation” to support bilateral trade with Michigan in the future.

PCF led a garment industry trade mission to Turkey in February, and Automation Alley is planning a trade mission for next fall.

- Suzanne Jacobs, Michigan Radio Newsroom

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