This week, the 95th Legislature was sworn in for the 2009-2010 term. Reports came in from across the state that people were dancing in the streets with joy because they knew that the new Michigan Legislature would solve all their problems and that everything was going to be alright! Okay, so the story doesn’t go exactly that way, but looking around the room at the Capitol on Wednesday, I saw a group of tremendously talented people who have no illusions about the state of our state right now. While the rhetoric is always soaring on occasions like this, I sensed a genuine desire of Republicans and Democrats alike to put aside our differences and work to find solutions that work for Michigan. I, for one, am ready to get to work and will do everything I can to lead by example.
In the dwindling days of last session, I had the remarkable opportunity to travel to Shanghai, China. I paid my own way and made it a mixture of business and sightseeing. We met with several people and organizations with ties to Michigan and some Chinese officials at the local level. I got a clear look at the sheer enormity of the Chinese economic engine and a sense that they are working hard and are on the move. Also, it was my sense that, generally, the Chinese have a very high view of Michigan. They respect the auto industry and some well known Michigan brands, Amway and Buick for example, are exceptionally strong. I drafted a short memo which I submitted to the Governor summarizing my experiences, impressions, and recommendations which I would gladly share with you if you’d like (send me an email). One thing is clear, whether we like it or not, China is an increasingly relevant force in our lives and it is up to us to position ourselves to benefit. More on this later.