Few counties in the United States can claim the international diversity of Oakland County’s business community – 900 firms from 37 foreign countries call Oakland County home. County Executive L. Brooks Patterson frequently cites the county’s foreign firms as a critical part of Oakland County’s economic signature.
The county could be adding a 38th country and a few more firms to the list in the not-to-distant future. Deputy County Executive Matt Gibb returned last week from Dubai and one of the largest life science trade shows in the world. During the show, Gibb made a connection with his equivalent in the Polish government who was looking for a Midwest market in North America for Polish technology companies. Poland has one of the fastest growing technology sectors in the world, Gibb said. A similar connection was made with South Korean official.
“We have the ability to bring them to our market and I want to bring them here,” Gibb said. “I want to hit 1,000 (foreign-owned companies) as fast as I can. We converted this into an attraction trip as only Oakland County can.”
Gibb was a guest of the Michigan Economic Development at the trade show, Arab Health, representing Oakland County’s Medical Main Street.
More than 80,000 people attended the show. He established relationships with technology companies from various parts of the world and with the American Business Consul in Dubai. He is hopeful the contacts may lead to additional foreign investment in Oakland County.
“We need to make sure our life science companies know the export markets available to them,” Gibb said. “This is a unique opportunity to use our strengths to attract companies off the beaten path from a country like Poland. If we can do that, this is worth 10 trips, and I think we will.”