Foreign Investments in Michigan at $44 Million

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With all the talk of manufacturing jobs headed out of Michigan to places like India and China, you might be surprised to hear about a company like Bekum.

"You don't know us but we touch you every day of your lives," Bekum Vice President Owen Johnston said, repeating a slogan he likes to use for the company that makes the machines that make plastic bottles.

It's a German-owned company employing 100 manufacturing workers in Williamston. Bekum has been in the area for a while, but more Bekums should be on their way.

"Foreign investment is critical today. More so than at any other time in our history," Michigan Economic Development Corp. Chief Communications Officer Michael Shore said.

It's critical in part because of Michigan's lagging economy. Foreign companies bring jobs to replace those lost. They gain an advantage in serving American customers from within the country.

"In the U.S., we custom (our products) to what the U.S. user wants," Johnston said.

But Bekum isn't the only foreign company putting Michigan residents to work.

"We have Yazaki on the west side and a couple of German companies there to service the new Delta plant. Hopefully, it means a lot of jobs around the area," Shore said.

All those jobs combined with others around the state yields an enormous total investment.

According to the MCEDC, German-owned companies have invested about 30 billion dollars, including the DaimlerChyrsler purchase of Chrysler Corp. in 1998. Other major players include Japan, with roughly $8 billion, along with Canada and the United Kingdom, each investing roughly $3 billion.

All tolled: Roughly $44 billion of foreign investment in Michigan. We asked Shore to put that number into perspective.

"The Delta Plant was announced as a $1 billion dollar investment. A billion dollars is significant. So $50 billion, it's much bigger than you think it is," Shore said.

Michigan officials hope to grow that number by using more trips abroad, to bring more jobs back home. A Michigan delegation is currently seeking investment in China.