Q&A: Milan Stevanovich, Vice President, Business and Community Relations, DCBA

1. What are business perspectives for Chinese companies in Detroit?

The automotive business is going global, manufacturing is going hyper local, everyone who is anyone has to be in all major markets: Europe, North America, Asia, China, South America; consolidation is happening. Seventy percent of North American Auto RD is here. If China wants to sell Chinese cars to Chinese, Americans need to buy them, Americans will not buy them, unless they see a lot of “Detroit” in them. So China has to call the Motor Metropolis home for their North American operations if they are going to succeed. All the eco system and 15,000 Mandarin-speaking engineers can be found here.

Additionally, SE Michigan is tops globally for medical, advanced medical devices, and BioTech. The University of Michigan is also tops in sustainability, alternative energy, ecology, clean technology. MSU is tops in agriculture, food safety, design, and logistics.

We have great engineering schools and great university systems: LTU, Kettering, WSU, U of M, Michigan Technological, Central, Western, Northwood, EMU hospitality, even Schoolcraft college for culinary.

2. What is the most important thing when you do business with companies from other countries? 

Understand that people from other cultures might have experienced a serious dysfunction; their countries didn’t have a version of the founding fathers who stressed liberty and small government. Business and government go hand in hand in China, and the best scenario is to look at building a long-term relationship with potential benefits and opportunities outside of the specific transaction you have in hand. Read about their history and their iconic, historical philosophies. When dealing with Chinese clients, for example,read the “Art of War” and learn about Confucius.

3. What languages do you speak?

I speak Macedonian, Serbian, English, am emphasizing language to my only progeny. She is soon to be 13 and she is learning Sign language, Mandarin, Spanish, Serbian, and Macedonian.

4. What do you like most about your job? 

I suffer from BADD (Business Attention Deficit Disorder). Hence, I have to keep my brain busy with business development, strategy, international diplomacy, marketing, community relations, media, business trends, the auto industry, and real estate.

I’m quite proud and happy about the progress of DCBA since I  started here. I was originally brought on board to 1: help offset the one-sided negative media regarding Detroit, 2: to engage community leaders to produce events in Detroit which DCBA didn’t do previously, 3: to expand the narrative and help make Michigan a top 4 state for Chinese Investment.

I have been fortunate to host high level delegations and have been a guest of high level business and official leaders in China. I’ve also met hundreds of great people, many of whom are commtted to seeing the acceleration of the development of the city and transformation of the region.

Thanks to Milan for sharing his thoughts and for a great perspective!