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Snyder goes to China as Chinese eye Michigan real estate
Brief:Low real estate prices in Detroit and the city's emergence from bankruptcy are drawing the attention of investors in China and other places.
Gov. Rick Snyder heads to China on Wednesday for a weeklong mission at a time when Chinese real estate investors have shown interest in buying property in Detroit and other U.S. cities.

Chinese firms and investors are looking for deals because of tight policy measures in their country intended to cool off their red hot housing market.

That's music to Clif Haley's ears as he is looks to sell his Drummond Island Resort and Conference Center in Michigan's Upper Peninsula.

He sees Chinese investors as prime buyers for his unique 2,000-acre resort.

Koralo Chen, who runs Chen Cultural Intepretation in Detroit, was on the island recently with a group of Chinese businessmen and women to kick the tires.

Armed with information about the resort, Chen returned to China seeking buyers.

"I believe the Chinese are attracted to Michigan, and are interested in investing in U.S. real estate," said Haley. "What better way than the Drummond Island Resort that personifies 'Pure Michigan.' "

Haley, former CEO of Budget Rent-A-Car, was an investor with a group that purchased the resort in 1992. It was built by Domino's founder Tom Monaghan.

Haley is looking to sell the development to focus on other things like helping Michigan State University's Law School — his alma mater.

Low real estate prices in Detroit and the city's emergence from bankruptcy are drawing the attention of investors in China and other places.

The hope is that attention rubs off on other real estate in Michigan, too.

Shanghai-based Dongdu International Group purchased three buildings in Detroit a year ago — the David Stott Building, the former Detroit Free Press building and the Clark Lofts.

The recent sale of the Waldorf Astoria Hotel in New York to a Chinese company has only ramped up interest.

"The sale of the Waldorf Astoria to Chinese investors was a seminal event in both the hospitality industry and the real estate industry, comparable to the sale of Rockefeller Center in 1989 to Mitsubishi Real Estate of Japan," said Geoffrey Madden, partner at the investment firm, Christman, Peters & Madden, a New York banking investment firm helping Haley.

Snyder, who is making his fourth trip to China, will be talking up Michigan's agriculture, automotive business and other sectors.

Growing business with China is something others also are interested in.

"The Chinese economy is already overtaking the American economy," said Oakland County Executive L. Brooks Patterson.

He suggested adding Mandarin Chinese classes to the county's 28 school districts, an idea he got from Tom Watkins, former Michigan school superintendent.

"That effort sent a message we are ready to do business," Patterson added.

Lisa Gray, chairwoman of the U.S. China Cultural and Economic Exchange, said, "There is lots of potential for bilateral trade between Michigan and China."

No doubt there will be more to say about China and Michigan in the months and years ahead.
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