Michigan governor makes history at BASF Wyandotte site
Rick Snyder chooses the chemical company’s plant to issue first Open Investment Policy statement.
BY ANNA SPIEWAK
Gov. Rick Snyder made a momentous declaration in Wyandotte on Oct. 13, and he chose to do it at BASF’s facility.
The Michigan Republican issued the state’s very first Open Investment Policy statement, proclaiming that foreign direct investment (FDI) helps power Michigan’s economy and reaffirms that The Great Lakes State will treat foreign-based employers in an equitable manner.
“Globalization is important,” said Snyder during his speech at BASF’s Wyandotte site. “It’s not about a win-lose environment. We should never view it as how we win and somebody else loses, or vice versa.”
Snyder is the sixth governor to issue an Open Investment Policy statement at the state level and the first to issue in Michigan history, according to the Organization for International Investment (OFII).
“A domestic investment dollar is equal to a foreign investment dollar for the state of Michigan in terms of jobs, value creation, technology, innovation and therefore the governor has been very supportive,” said Greg Pflum, Vice President & General Manager, BASF Midwest Hub, in an interview. “The governor has also been supportive of BASF in his prior dealings with the company.”
Snyder’s proclamation in Michigan breaks free from the current nationwide move towards protectionism, which is wary of globalization in fear it could result in loss of American jobs.
“With the whole America First agenda at our federal level, it’s critically important that we demonstrate that foreign investment is beneficial, not only from a global and free-trade orientation, but also at the local level at how we build communities,” added Pflum. “At BASF, we believe in free trade, we believe in not putting up artificial boundaries to solve these global challenges that we see from food and nutrition, from clean water, housing and standards of living mobility.”
During his visit to the Wyandotte site, Snyder toured BASF’s innovation laboratories, including the advanced materials laboratory area. The Midwest hub has the largest BASF customer base for advanced materials.
“Many of you know that I ran (for governor) as one tough nerd, and I view this place as nerd central,” Snyder added while at the site. “I could be here all day asking questions, learning new things.”
The globalization effort spans nationwide. Over the past 40 years, U.S. presidents from both political parties have issued Open Investment Policy statements, which affirm the need of cross-border investment for improving the U.S. economy.
In a White House press release from 2011, a statement was made by the U.S. President on the matter.
“The United States reaffirms our open investment policy, a commitment to treat all investors in a fair and equitable manner under the law, and I encourage all countries to pursue such a policy,” per the release. “Investments by foreign-domiciled companies and investors create well-paid jobs, contribute to economic growth, boost productivity and support American communities.”
BASF Corp. is the largest affiliate of BASF SE, headquartered in Germany, and the second largest producer and marketer of chemicals and related products in North America. The company employs more than 17,500 workers at 154 locations in the U.S. More than 2,000 people work at nine locations across Michigan.
According to data from the U.S. Department of Commerce, companies such as BASF, Magna and Siemens employ more than 238,000 people in Michigan.
“It’s historical for the state of Michigan,” Pflum concluded referring to the Open Investment Policy statement. “For BASF, it’s critical, as we’re a foreign company, it gives us a venue to tell our story around innovation, advanced materials, how we give back to the communities and demonstrate that foreign companies are not just here to take advantage of the situation, but we’re residents, we’re employees, we’re part of the overall tax base, and we’ve been able to demonstrate that over the past five years by growing over 100 new jobs per year in Michigan.”