Boosting economic development through international student retention

onemacomb (1)Did you know that international students make up 70 percent of graduate students enrolled in a master’s or PH.D. program in electrical engineering? In fact, throughout the nation, 63 percent of computer science and 70 percent of graduate students in engineering are international students. Generally speaking, international students are much more likely to study in the STEM fields than any other.

As potential employees, international students have a lot to offer our industries.

electrical engineering (1)Now, an initiative is underway to help employers recognize the value of hiring international students in  Michigan and other Midwestern states. It is led by Welcoming Economies (WE) Global Network, a project of Welcoming America.

More than 20 organizations from throughout the Midwest are part of the WE Global Network. United, they work to welcome, retain and empower immigrant communities for the value they add to our local economy. The network also provides members access to research and tools and gives peers the chance to share best practices for creating new opportunities.

To learn more about this initiative, check out the latest WE Global Network’s blog: International Students Are U.S. Business’ Best Hope For Growth.

Michigan (1)OneMacomb is a proud member of the WE Global Network. This initiative strives to make Macomb County a welcoming community where everyone can thrive. Last month, Deputy County Executive Pam Lavers attended a special event at the White House where Macomb County, along with 50 other U.S. cities and counties, was honored for its participation in the nationwide Building Welcoming Communities Campaign.

OneMacomb was singled out for its efforts to enhance language access by incorporating video remote interpreting services, installing multi-language signage throughout county buildings, translating brochures into numerous languages and providing connections to local literacy services.

Follow OneMacomb on Twitter @WeAreOneMacomb and Facebook @OneMacomb.

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Maria Zardis is the program manager for the Business Outreach and Communications Group for the Macomb County Department of Planning & Economic Development.

Courting foreign direct investment in Germany

Over 4,000 miles away from Detroit, KUKA Germany’s CEO Dr. Till Reuter shook hands with Gov. Rick Snyder at Hannover Messe, the world’s largest industrial trade fair. In this same space, KUKA Germany, KUKA Systems North America, as well as KUKA subsidiaries from around the globe, converged for this one week, meeting with business clients – past, present and future.

Germany.jpgTheir booth footprint was massive, impressive and interactive. However, their true presence was much more profound all over the showroom floors, as system integrators demonstrated how their products aligned with KUKA’s automation and robotic technologies.

KUKA Systems North America, headquartered in Macomb County, was one of the many companies that made the trip to Hannover, Germany. I joined as part of the Automation Alley trade mission, along with other Michigan-based companies, two from Macomb County: Omnico AGV and JAAN Technologies. This year was unique because the U.S. was the Partner Country for the Hannover Messe Fair, welcoming President Obama at the Opening Ceremony.

More than 465 U.S. companies exhibited at Hannover Messe, a much larger presence than in previous years. It was easy to get lost on the floors which housed 5,200 exhibitors spread out over 27 different halls. In total, the show brought in over 190,000 visitors from all over the world. Many languages were spoken, and the meetings I had were rich in investment and growth opportunities.

My mission was to meet with companies seeking a U.S. location for expanding their market and production capability. Michigan, especially Macomb County, is prime for these types of foreign direct investments, especially with our rich roots and strong workforce in advanced manufacturing for the automotive, aerospace and defense industries. In total, I walked 56,000 steps over the four days I attended the Hannover Messe Fair – each step bringing these opportunities closer to home.

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Vicky Rad is the deputy director of the Macomb County Department of Planning & Economic Development.