Finnish representatives meet in Houghton County

The goal is to strengthen a partnership stalled due to the COVID-19 pandemic
The goal is to re-engage an economic agreement that had been on hold during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Published: May. 17, 2022 at 8:14 PM EDT|Updated: May. 17, 2022 at 8:16 PM EDT
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HANCOCK, Mich. (WLUC) - Representatives of the Finnish government and officials from across Houghton County gathered at the Finlandia University’s Finnish American Heritage Center in Hancock.

The goal is to re-engage an economic agreement that had been on hold during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Governor Whitmer signed an MOU with the government of Finland in 2020,” said the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development Director Gary McDowell, “We got off to a great start, but then, of course, COVID came. but now we’re off.”

The agreement is part of an economic partnership between Finland and the UP, focusing on sharing businesses and research.

“We have about 80 different organizations between Michigan and Finland that are collaborating on the bio-forestry and new innovations in the maritime,” added McDowell.

Okko-Pekka Salmimies, the Consul General of Finland, is spearheading this task.

This is a first-time visit to the area for Salmimies, who notes how welcome it has been.

“Seeing the Finish flags, and the signs about Finland, shops, etcetera,” said Salmimies. “It is really exceptional, and I would even say unique because you do not have this anywhere in any other parts of the world.”

He also hopes that this relationship will allow for further opportunities as it develops, including trade, which is considered important in the wake of current events.

“The eastern markets are more difficult to enter, and of course, the situation with Russia as a market is almost impossible,” added Salmimies.

The gathering would be followed by a similar event and dinner at Michigan Technological University, focusing on lumber.

A plan to send representatives to Finland later this year is in place to further this partnership.

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