…the hills are alive with the sound of business

Actually the song lyrics from one of my favorite musicals (The Sound of Music) are that the hills are alive with the sound of music and it would make sense for the tie in for today in 1987, Maria von Trapp, whose life story inspired the Rodgers and Hammerstein musical “The Sound of Music,” died in Morrisville, Vt. at age 82.

But today, I get back to this blog after being on the road for the last week or so on the building better relationships tour. We started out with the Governor of Michigan in Turin, Italy. This is an industrial city and home of Fiat. We had great dialog with the CEO of our largest firm and the governor, as well as meetings with other firms that are exploring entering the North American market.

We also did a few retention visits to a couple of firms that already have a presence in Auburn Hills. We visit and build relationships with American companies in our city, paying attention to these companies is equally important. We normally learn a lot about these companies, what they are working on or other types of businesses they are involved in. Our hosts were very gracious with their time and information.

We did not follow the governor to Germany and instead focused on the Italian market be heading to Milan, Bologna, and Florence. I think we made great in roads to some interesting prospects. We will continue to work with these companies and many more.


These companies found our environment very inviting as their culture is much different. They are very nervous about our unions due to their experience with unions overseas. As it was explained to me, they have to pay a 50% social fee (for public social services) so if they pay someone $1,000, the company pays $500 to the government and the employee pays a 30% social service fee on wages earned. The unions also have to agree to every change they make. This is why they prefer the States without strong unions for their manufacturing; they equate the confiscatory unions and government they work with every time they hear about unions.

So we have a lot of work to do in just telling our story. Some parts are easier than others. An example would be that gasoline is over $8 a gallon over there, housing cost are very high and layer upon layer of government.

I hope to highlight some of the visits on the blog in the near future, but for now, back to the music…these are a few of my favorite things…

night view

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  • Peter Auger, Auburn Hills City Manager

    Peter Auger, Auburn Hills City Manager

    Thoughts on running a city, daily musings, and everything in between.