By Carol Cain
CBS 62

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The folksy “Pure Michigan” tourism campaign continued its winning streak as it walked off with two more national Mercury Awards — bringing its total in recent years to an impressive 17.

“We are expanding the reach of Pure Michigan to new travelers here in the United States and beyond, and it is an honor to have the campaign continue to be recognized in this way by our peers,”  George Zimmermann, vice president for Travel Michigan at Michigan Economic Development Corporation said during taping of “Michigan Matters.”

He appeared with Larry Alexander, president and CEO of the Detroit Metro Convention & Visitors Bureau and Oakland County Executive L. Brooks Patterson.

The U.S. Travel Association and the National Council of State Tourism Directors recently recognized the  “Pure Michigan” campaign – created for MEDC by the Birmingham office of McCann Erickson – for having the best TV and radio advertisements.

Zimmermann also worked with Alexander as they created two new TV commercials to be broadcast across the nation touting Detroit and Metro Detroit as a destination.

“It’s one of 40 partnerships we have with local organizations across the state,” said Zimmermann.

“’Pure Michigan’ was created as a regional campaign,” said Zimmermann. “We were in Chicago, Indiana and Columbus. But in 2009 we went national and started seeing visitors from much further away.”

He also talked about an upcoming trade mission to China next week with Gov Rick Snyder.

China is the most populated country on the planet with 1.3 billion people and has a huge and growing middle class with disposable income.

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“It’s exhilarating to see the Snyder administration seek to tap into China’s rise in ways that grows investment in Michigan — better still to see these efforts produce results,” said Tom Watkins, a consultant who has worked for years to build economic and education bridges between the two places.

Motor City Focus

Alexander, who has been with the bureau 14 years, talked about selling the city as a convention and trade show destination with Detroit’s  financial woes as a backdrop.

“Some think amid the bankruptcy that Detroit is dying That is not the case. Detroit is alive and well. Yes, there are financial issues but it has nothing to do with the hospitality industry,” Alexander added.

Patterson talked about retaining his county’s enviable Triple A bond rating amid Detroit’s bankruptcy.

Though he has succeeded — it will still cost them about $30 million more when they refinance some bonds to pay off their legacy costs.

Patterson also talked about the latest renovation of Cobo Center which will be unveiled in a few days.

“This will be one of the top three exhibition centers in America when this is all done,” Patterson said.

Alexander said Cobo was the 13th largest convention center in the country.

Speaking of awards, DMCVB hosted its 19th Annual ROSE Awards  Wednesday night with more than 150 of metro Detroit’s hospitality professionals being recognized.

“Truly the frontline superstars of the Detroit hospitality industry,” said Alexander. “ With more than 20 million visitors to the metro area each year, the hospitality industry is a significant aspect of the local economy. Metro Detroit is home to 206,000 hospitality industry jobs, which accounts for 8.8% of the working public in Michigan.”

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Carol Cain is the Emmy winning Senior Editor/Host of “Michigan Matters” on CBS 62. She also writes about politics and business in Sunday’s Detroit Free Press. She can be reached at