Following the landslide election of Republican Rick Snyder as Michigan’s new governor on Tuesday, it seems that few people will be sad to see Gov. Jennifer Granholm leave office. Granholm’s governorship was plagued with economic downturn and drastic budget cuts. But the current governor has started a few projects that the governor-elect should continue. Yesterday, Granholm left Michigan for Seoul, South Korea as part of an investment mission to bring foreign chemical and battery companies to Michigan. Snyder should pursue similar international investment opportunities while also seeking out other, diverse types of business.

Granholm left for South Korea yesterday for three days to promote international investments in Michigan. According to a Nov. 1 press release from the governor’s office, Granholm will meet with three different companies involved in the manufacturing of technologically advanced batteries. Granholm said in a statement that bringing these industries to the state will help to establish Michigan as a new center for battery and electric powered vehicles. Since 2004, Granholm has made a total of 12 trips abroad in an attempt to bring more overseas investments to the state. According to the governor’s office, these trips have collectively brought nearly $2 billion into the state.

Michigan has infrastructure and resources left over from the peak of the automotive industry that currently aren’t being utilized. There are empty plants surrounding the Detroit area, for example, that could easily be retrofitted to manufacture electric vehicles, advanced batteries, solar panels and wind turbines. And if new businesses settle down in Michigan, these ready-made factories can be staffed with already-trained manufacturing workers, creating jobs the state desperately needs. We’ve seen it happen: according to the governor’s office, Granholm’s mission to draw investors to the state has already created or retained nearly 20,000 jobs. And one of the companies that Granholm intends to meet with in Seoul is expected to employ 400 workers at a Holland lithium-ion battery plant by 2012.

These technologically-advanced and environmentally friendly lithium-ion batteries will also help to encourage Michigan’s automotive industry to shift its focus to producing more vehicles that run on alternative energy. With the components needed for these vehicles easily accessible and therefore less expensive, Michigan-based automotive companies have a financial incentive to move forward with manufacturing greener vehicles.

While manufacturing can’t be the sole source of economic prosperity in Michigan as it has been in the past, it’s an integral part of creating a diverse economy. Governor-elect Rick Snyder has extensive experience as a businessman and investor. This experience should be valuable as Snyder takes on the challenge of reviving Michigan’s economy. When Snyder takes office, he should utilize his business experience and follow Granholm’s example to continue attracting international companies to Michigan.

Granholm has made an effort to seek out successful companies and encouraged them to bring their ideas to the Midwest. Her work has started to lay the groundwork for an innovative, diverse economy. But the job will not be complete by January, when Granholm leaves office. Snyder needs to make it a priority to draw international investors to Michigan.

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