VAXJO, Sweden (AP) — In a bid to attract Swedish investments, Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm on Monday said her state has a lot in common with Sweden, from great lakes and vast forests to a shared interest in alternative energy.
''If you don't do business in Michigan now, let us be your gateway to the United States,'' Granholm told a Swedish-American business forum in Vaxjo, southern Sweden.
The Democratic governor is on a weeklong trade trip to Sweden and Germany, hoping to persuade cutting-edge energy and technology companies to do business in Michigan.
Granholm also said Monday that Trelleborg Rubore, a division of Trelleborg Automotive, will invest $10.2 million in a new technical center in Northville Township, near Detroit. The company already employs about 340 people in Michigan at its North American headquarters and research center in South Haven and a manufacturing plant in Sandusky.
In addition to meeting with Trelleborg Automotive executives, Granholm also met with executives from Volvo, which is owned by Ford Motor Co. as part of its Premier Automotive Group.
Nearly 50 Swedish companies, including furniture maker IKEA and engineering firm Atlas Copco, employ more than 6,000 workers in Michigan, while more than 300 German-owned companies have more than 170,000 employees in the state, according to the governor's office.
Granholm, who is of Swedish heritage, said Michigan had a lot to learn from Sweden's advances in alternative energy, especially biomass.
''You are so far ahead of the world really in the choices that Sweden has made to foster alternative energy solutions,'' Granholm said.
Sweden is one of the few countries on track to meet its greenhouse emissions target under the international Kyoto treaty on climate change. Vaxjo has one of most ambitious environmental policies among Swedish cities, having reduced greenhouse gas emissions by 30 percent since 1993, largely by replacing oil with biomass in the heating sector.
Michigan, home to Ford Motor Co., Chrysler LLC and General Motors Corp., is committed to lead the U.S. in developing alternative energy technologies, Granholm said.
''We have put the world on wheels,'' she said. ''Now we feel a moral obligation to make those wheels run on fuel cells, on ethanol, on biodiesel.''
Granholm opened and closed her speech with greeting phrases in Swedish, to the delight of the crowd of about 200 people in the Vaxjo concert hall.
During her visit to Sweden, Granholm was to meet with Swedish companies involved in the automotive sector, tooling, biotechnology and neurological drug development
She was to continue her trade trip to Germany later in the week.