The Michigan Governor, Swedish-American, Jennifer Granholm, spoke at the annual meeting of Detroit’s Swedish-American Chamber of Commerce (SACC-Detroit) on December 2, 2010. She talked about the long and successful partnership between Michigan and several other countries such as Sweden, covering knowledge and technology transfers, and direct partnerships and investments. Michigan has demonstrated to the world the role that global partnerships can play in creating new jobs. Governor Granholm addressed the fruitful collaborations between Michigan and Sweden, especially in clean energy such as bio-energy, solar photocells and wind energy.

The governor was introduced by Consul General of Sweden Lennart Johansson, whose job includes bringing Swedish clean technologies and methods to Michigan in an effort to diversify the economy and create new jobs to replace those lost in the automotive sector. Johansson’s efforts are as much a task for Michigan as it is for Sweden. The governor's first investment mission to Sweden (arranged by Lennart Johansson in 2007) brought Swedish clean tech companies to the state.

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The Swedish Triple Helix Model—how government, industry and academia work together—was made into a new law in Michigan, called the Center of Energy Excellence Law. This is a private public partnership where the industry is in the lead to create new jobs. The renewable energy and advanced energy storage has resulted in an investment of about $9.4 billion, which will create more than 80,000 new jobs in Michigan. The advanced energy storage alone represents investments of about $5.7 billion with 17 leading battery manufacturers from Asia, Europe and USA establishing manufacturing in Michigan that will result in over 40,000 new jobs.

Swedish-American Green Alliance
In Sweden it is common to use bio-digester technologies to clean waste water, sewage and other liquid organic waste products from industry, restaurants and hospitals. The products from these processes generate clean water, bio gas for energy production and transportation fuels and bio fertilizers. The global leader of this technology is Swedish Biogas International that now has a subsidiary in the City of Flint and has created a welcome business for Flint.
The governor and Swedish King Carl XVI Gustaf co-hosted a conference on climate change in Dearborn in 2008 and presided in the groundbreaking of Michigan’s first Center of Energy Excellence, a clean energy collaboration between Swedish Biogas International, Kettering University and the city of Flint. A Swedish-American green alliance was thus initiated.

Johansson was tasked to find a foundry willing to locate in Michigan, and during the governor's visit to Sweden in October 2010 she announced that the Finnish foundry URV, with subsidiaries in Sweden and Estonia, will build the first U.S. foundry in 40 years, in Eaton Rapids, Michigan. The foundry that will be among the biggest in the world for large heavy castings has already received orders from leading wind turbine manufacturers for the North American market. This foundry will have an annual capacity of 160,000 metric tons. A new chilling technology reduces the casting time from the current one week to about four hours. This technology combined with the rapid machining by Astraus, a joint venture between MAG and Dowding in Eaton Rapids, allow URV to offer wind turbine castings at competitive costs and better quality than China.

Building on historic strengths
Governor Granholm’s strategy has been to diversify Michigan’s industry and move into new sectors based on Michigan’s strong manufacturing base. Like Sweden, Governor Granholm has emphasized the importance of an advanced work force.
Michigan is now a powerhouse for support of new, exciting ventures and bilateral contacts with Sweden, especially in clean energy and moving away from dependence on oil.
Governor Granholm received one of Sweden’s most prestigious awards, the Insignia of First Commander, Order of the Polar Star, from the hands of Swedish King Carl XVI Gustaf in October 2010, in recognition of her efforts to promote clean technology and economic relations between Michigan and Sweden.

Reported by Lisbeth Nordstrom-Lerner, M.D., Swedish-American who attended the SACC meeting.

SACC-Detroit with 150 members and 50 Swedish companies was founded 20 years ago and is one of 19 chapters in the U.S. The first chapter, SACC-New York, was started in 1906 and makes the Swedish-American chamber of commerce one of the oldest chambers of commerce in the U.S. These chambers provide a forum for American and Swedish business executives and representatives from the government to address common interests and needs.