State opening new foreign trade office in Germany
Dusseldorf-Cologne, Germany - Minnesota officials announced today (Wednesday, June 19) that the Dusseldorf-Cologne area of Germany will be the site of a European office to promote Minnesota exports and foreign direct investment in the state.
The foreign trade office is the first of three that will be opened internationally as a part of Gov. Mark Dayton’s Global Competitiveness Initiative. The two other sites will be announced at a later date.
“As Minnesota continues to compete on a global scale, increasing exports and attracting new foreign direct investment are top priorities in our road map to long-term economic success,” said Katie Clark Sieben, commissioner of the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development. “Germany’s central location in Europe and its strong economy make this region an excellent choice for one of our new trade offices.”
Gov. Dayton, who is traveling on a trade mission to Germany, Sweden and Norway this week with 35 Minnesota companies and education institutions, joined officials in Dusseldorf this morning in announcing the new trade office. The state currently has only one other trade office, located in Shanghai, China.
Germany was Minnesota’s fifth-largest trade partner in 2012 with $728 million in sales, while the European Union accounted for 20 percent of state exports last year ($4 billion). Belgium, the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, France, Ireland, Sweden and Finland are other European Union countries on the state’s top 25 export list.
Germany is also a major international source of foreign direct investment, ranking fifth in the world. German companies have invested $1.4 billion in plants, property and equipment in Minnesota and employ 9,000 Minnesotans.
Geringhoff, a major German producer of farm equipment, last year announced a $20 million investment for a factory in St. Cloud that will create 100 jobs in the first phase. Gov. Dayton and two trade mission delegates – Earl Potter III, president of St. Cloud State University, and Diana Lawson, business school dean at St. Cloud State University – met with Geringhoff officials on Tuesday to thank them for opening a Minnesota operation, the company’s first in North America. Dusseldorf-Cologne and the German state of North Rhine-Westphalia, where the cities are located, have a number of large, well-known Minnesota companies, including 3M, Cargill, Medtronic, Carlson Cos., Ecolab and St. Jude Medical.
State officials said foreign trade offices are smart investments that pay off by generating business activity. When Minnesota opened its Shanghai office in 2005, state exports to China increased 71 percent in the first year. Pennsylvania invested $6 million in 2011 to open 10 foreign trade offices, producing $831 million in export sales and more than 6,800 jobs.
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