Mayor Bernero: Korea trip a success

By: Tony Tagliavia
By: Tony Tagliavia

Lansing Mayor Virg Bernero says his trip to South Korea was a good thing for Lansing. But don't expect to see a Hyundai or Samsung factory in mid-Michigan just yet.

"It's a good first step," Bernero says.

A first step on the road to real investment in Lansing -- from Korea.

"Ideally, I'd love Samsung to build here. Ideally, I'd love some of these other comapnies we talked to to make an investment here," he said.

But we're not there yet.

Bernero says the meeting with Lansing's new sister city -- Asan City, South Korea -- didn't yield any concrete plans for more jobs in Lansing. He says Korean business customs dictate a very formal process.

"You first build a strong relationship. A relationship of trust. Then you move to more substantive discussions of business," he said.

Bernero says he spent most of his time with leaders in Asan and another similarly sized South Korean city. He met with leaders from major corporations there.

"We talked to one of the heads of Samsung about Samsung," Bernero said. "Had an incredible tour of Hyundai."

South Korean business leaders have been to Lansing before to visit Michigan State. Bernero sees strong ties there.

"I met several businesspeople in Seoul who are MSU alums," he said.

Connections or not, some council members say the mayor shouldn't be away from Lansing while his office works to present a budget to council. The mayor says the budget was never far from his mind.

"The work did not stop. But in the long run if we're going to get ahead of the budget, we've got to grow the economy," Bernero said.

But Lansing has a lot of sister cities. It's safe to say most aren't helping to grow the city's economy. The mayor says Asan City, South Korea will be different.

"I'm so encouraged that they want to work with us. Because they're taking off anyway," Bernero said.

He says most of the signs are positive, but it's not a sure thing.

"Maybe it will fail. But I'm not going to stop trying. I think you fight. You get in the game. And that's what we did," Bernero said.

The mayor says he hopes a delegation from Asan City could be in Lansing as soon as next fall.

-- in Lansing, Tony Tagliavia, News 10.


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