Istanbul trip yields new opportunities for Michigan businesses, higher education

A June trade trip to Turkey sponsored by the Prima Civitas Foundation has resulted in six agreements between Michigan and Turkish interests that open the door for increased trade, investment and other opportunities.

The Turkey-Michigan Forum, hosted in Istanbul from June 3 to June 6, connected Michigan and other Midwest representatives with business contacts in Turkey.

The Forum was well attended by senior-level representatives from Michigan’s business, economic development, and higher education sectors as well as high-ranking Turkish officials. Forum topics included government and private sector partnerships, research and development opportunities, and university and cultural exchanges. Major Turkish press and media outlets followed the Forum’s daily activities.

PCF coordinated the signing of six agreements between American and Turkish interests during the Forum. Other attendees are reporting similar economic agreements as a direct result of their participation and informal networking. The memorandums of understanding (MOUs) commit both sides to the “ideals of free and fair trade,” say they will assist “to disseminate potential economic opportunities to business organizations and companies,” and offer support “to organize business seminars and conferences” that will increase awareness of chances to do business in each country.

“Ferris State University has been collaborating with partners in Turkey since 2009 and plans to expand those relationships. We see Turkey as a strategic opportunity due to its culture, economic growth and geographic location,” notes Forum attendee Dr. Don Green, Vice President of Extended and Internal Operations for Ferris State University.

“The success of the Forum was beyond what we could have anticipated,” reports PCF’s CEO Steve Webster. “There has been a cascading effect for everyone involved that is leading to some impressive partnerships and collaborative projects.”

PCF’s relationship with Turkey began as an interest in connecting Michigan’s growing garment industry with the Istanbul Textile and Apparel Exporters Association. The scope gradually evolved from garments into a larger picture of higher education and industry. To accommodate the mutual, growing interest of Turkish and North American business opportunities, PCF launched the Turkish Resource Center of North America (TRCNA). TRCNA, a 501 (c)(3) nonprofit, is working to be a premier conduit for facilitating economic, cultural, and educational opportunities between Turkey and North America.

“The launch of [TRCNA] gives both areas of the globe an avenue for enhanced partnerships,” notes Nurten Ural, Michigan’s Honorary Turkish Consul General and TRCNA’s Co-Executive Director. “Borrowing from the Prima Civitas model, the Center provides a fast and flexible menu of services that can help the private sector, educational institutions, and those simply seeking to strengthen their international portfolio. After the success of the Turkey-Michigan Forum, I am excited for the road the Center is paving for both North America and the Republic of Turkey.”

Pat Anderson, Founder and CEO of Anderson Economic Group LLC, attended the Forum and noted opportunities for stronger Michigan and Turkish relationships. “We have complimentary strengths. Michigan has technology and skilled producers of the kind of products that can help Turkish industries get to the next level. Turkey has manufacturing and service capacity, and the access to both European and Asian markets, as well as those in Southeastern Europe, Central Asia, and the Middle East. These can provide growing markets for Michigan products and services,” reports Anderson.

Full MOUs, forum details, and current outcomes can be found on TRCNA’s website at

Plans are underway for a second annual conference in 2013.