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I almost choked on my coffee as I was reading Daily Kos this morning. I saw several ads stating "Vote for Rick for Michigan". The ads refer to Rick Snyder. Snyder promotes himself as an "outsider", "not a politician" and good for Michigan. He's running on the Republican ticket.

I have news for Rick. As soon as he entered the race for governor of Michigan, he became a politician. His ads on tv are no different from the others. Snyder makes claims that are as exaggerated as any other politician. He is using the same tactic as the rest. Not a politician indeed!

As everyone in the country knows, Michigan is in trouble.  Our ecomomy is poor, and has been going downhill for decades. Part of the reason is that we put all our eggs in one basket, the automobile industry. The big three carmakers were very short sighted. In the 70s when President Carter was touting environmentally correct practices, the big three decided to do business as usual. They had the prime opportunity to jump on the band wagon and be on the forefront of green energy.  They could have developed electric cars to the max. However, in their greed, they decided to stay the course. They wouldn't believe that oil and gas are finite resources.

After 12 years of Republican governorship of Michigan - Engler - in steps Granholm to a big mess. Now she gets the blame. Granted, she didn't fix everything. Who could?  The downward trend in Michigan's economy has been brewing for decades. It will take time to turn it around.

Now, Rick Snyder thinks he has all the answers.  Afterall, he is a BUSINESSMAN, not a politician, or so he says. Hmm... let's look at his business record, shall we?

The following was taken from freep.com. (For the entire article, see: http://www.freep.com/...

"Ten years ago, the Ann Arbor businessman was enamored with tiny sensors, processors and other electronic devices that had the potential to revolutionize numerous industries. Snyder was so taken with these microelectromechanical systems, also called MEMS, that he and others formed a new company in 2000 to commercialize these technologies and foster the growth of this emerging industry.

Ardesta, as the new company was called, had big ambitions but ended up struggling, partly because bets on some startups didn't pan out. However, Snyder's venture capital fund, Ann Arbor-based Avalon Investments, that he started in 1997 became a success, investing in four winning companies -- Plymouth-based Esperion Therapeutics, HealthMedia of Ann Arbor, Okemos-based Sircon and TomoTherapy of Madison, Wis. Ardesta and Avalon show that in Michigan, Snyder has had his share of hits and misses as a businessman.

Snyder, the Republican candidate facing Democrat Virg Bernero in the Nov. 2 election, portrays himself in the campaign as a successful businessman and as "one tough nerd." He is a former CEO of Gateway.

Snyder's business venture investment record is mixed. When Rick Snyder and his partners launched Ardesta in 2000, they had high hopes for their new Ann Arbor-based investment company, touting it as an industry accelerator "leading the small-tech revolution."

The former Gateway executive had already established a $100-million venture capital fund called Avalon Investments, one of the largest in Michigan. It was a traditional venture fund, investing in Internet, life sciences and medical device companies.

But with Ardesta, Snyder and his partners aimed to not only make money for their investors but also develop a new industry focused on tiny electronic devices known as microsystems, or MEMS. These parts could be used in everything from telecommunications networks and industrial equipment to automobiles.

"The whole thing was, 'Smaller, better, faster, cheaper,'" recalled Chris Rizik, one ofWhat happened to Ardesta and Avalon is key to understanding Snyder's most recent business experiences in Michigan. The performances of these investment vehicles show that the Republican gubernatorial candidate's business track record has been mixed. While Avalon proved to be a big success, Ardesta has struggled.

In 2000, Ardesta began investing $100 million in microsystems-related companies, including four startups in Michigan. To help foster the industry, Ardesta also formed Small Times Media, which created a magazine, a Web site and trade shows to spread the small-tech gospel.

In April 2001, Ardesta teamed up with Sandia National Laboratories, another leading microsystems research institution. As part of an intellectual property agreement, Ardesta planned to establish a design and training facility and an MEMS fabrication plant in Albuquerque, N.M. The partnership called for the U.S. Department of Energy laboratory to invest in Ardesta and any companies it created.

To carry out this plan, Ardesta opened an office in Albuquerque and hired a former Sandia scientist to run it.

After such a promising start, however, Ardesta quickly ran into obstacles. Rizik said the company abandoned plans to go public because of poor market conditions after the tech bubble burst. The partnership with Sandia also didn't work out because the laboratory changed its focus to national security concerns after Sept. 11, Rizik said. A Sandia spokeswoman was not able to confirm this. Ardesta wound up closing its Albuquerque office.  As the decade progressed, a few of Ardesta's out-of-state portfolio companies failed, such as Sarcon Microsystems, AngstroVision and Phoenix Bioscience. Two companies, MesoSystems Technology and Ion Optics, were sold in 2005 to ICx Technologies. That year, Ardesta also sold Small Times to PennWell of Tulsa, Okla. PennWell still publishes Small Times e-newsletters but doesn't employ any workers in Michigan.

In 2008, Ardesta sold another Michigan company, Ann Arbor-based Sensicore, to General Electric. The U-M spinoff company had developed handheld devices to analyze water quality but never generated enough sales to thrive as an independent company.

That year, with the economy starting to tank and the financial markets on the verge of collapse, Snyder and his partners decided to halt their efforts to raise another $100-million fund. Though they had reached the $50-million level, Rizik said that amount would not have allowed them to fulfill their goal of making bigger investments in promising companies. In addition, he said, Snyder was contemplating making a run for governor.

Today, Ardesta still maintains its office on Main Street in Ann Arbor. Rizik said it will take the firm three more years to exit its remaining investments in seven companies.

Rizik won't reveal the Ardesta fund's internal rate of return, a key metric for investors. But so far, Ardesta has only had one major hit, HandyLab. The U-M spinoff company, which makes molecular diagnostic testing products, was sold to Becton, Dickinson in October 2009 for $275 million.

What happened to Ardesta doesn't mean Snyder is a failure when it comes to venture investing. His first fund, Avalon, invested $100 million in about 22 companies and generated huge returns on four of them, including Plymouth-based Esperion Therapeutics."

Then, there is the issue of his time spent working at Gateway as CEO. Did he really send jobs overseas?  According to the Battle Creek Enquirer:

"Snyder joined Gateway as executive vice president in 1991, when it had fewer than 800 employees. He was promoted to president and chief operating officer in 1996, then in 1997 when the company was moving from South Dakota to California, he left to return to Michigan. At that time, Gateway had 13,300 employees, including 10,600 in the U.S.

The company later moved most of its manufacturing operations to Mexico and countries in eastern Europe and Asia, including China, according to filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission. Snyder remained on Gateway's board through that time, and has said the board wasn't involved in the decisions to move jobs abroad.
 
When Snyder returned to Gateway for seven months in 2006 as interim chief executive, he returned about 130 jobs to the U.S. and opened a new plant in Tennessee that employed about 100 people. But the company couldn't remain afloat, and was sold in 2007 to Taiwan-based Acer Inc.

Gateway's filings showed Snyder made at least $14 million from selling his Gateway stock over the years. He used that money to start up two Ann Arbor venture capital firms in which others invested: Avalon Investments Inc., begun in 1997, and Ardesta, begun in 2000."

Although Snyder was not directly responsible for moving Gateway jobs overseas, as a member of the board of directors, he didn't stop it from happening either. While tv ads claiming that Snyder sent jobs overseas and sold Gateway to China (it was actually Taiwan), Snyder won't disclose the actual amount he made at Gateway.

So, you be the judge. Do you want this man as governor of Michigan? Maybe yes, maybe no.  But don't just "Vote for Rick for Michigan" because you believe a semi-successful businessman and self-proclaimed nerd can lead Michigan to economic success. Investigate both candidates and look at the facts.

As to that $14 million figure used as the supposed amount of Snyder's income: a 2000 federal court lawsuit in California against the company (Gateway) is the source of the figure. Snyder was not named as a defendant in the class-action suit. Snyder has acknowledged being a successful business executive, but has never disclosed exactly how much he earned while working there. He has not disputed the $14 million figure, though.

Now, if that's not playing THE POLITICIAN'S GAME, what is?

Originally posted to 50sbaby on Sun Oct 31, 2010 at 09:02 AM PDT.

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