Shenzhen, located just north of Hong Kong is home to China’s most dynamic and vibrant technology driven and economies. Participants from our region included: Michael Cade, Thurston EDC; Perry Shea, SCJ Alliance, President Thurston EDC; Dr. Riley Moore, Saint Martin’s University; Dr. David McAvity, The Evergreen State College; Lynn Longan, Mason EDC; Dru Garson, Greater Grays Harbor Inc.; Erik Larson, Mayor, City of Aberdeen and Annette Roth, Thurston EDC.
As the delegation headed to China in March, they knew this trip would be different than the previous visits.
“In addition to touting traditional economic development advantages, we wanted to promote our strong regional partnerships,” said Thurston Economic Development Director Michael Cade. “The role higher education has in our community, and in economic development, was also a key theme for us.” “This trip was unique in that we stressed to our Chinese counterparts the strong academic connections the Thurston EDC has with Saint Martin’s University (SMU), The Evergreen State College (TESC) and South Puget Sound Community College (SPSCC),” said SMU’s Dr. Riley Moore. “It also highlighted the EDC’s ability to serve as a one-stop clearing house to make it easier for Chinese entities to quickly obtain possible solutions to any questions they might have when exploring opportunities in our region.” Michael said business and technical assistance abounds locally to help both foreign and U.S. companies be successful with international trade and investment.
The delegation included economic development representatives from Thurston, Mason and Grays Harbor, as well as from Saint Martin’s and Evergreen. The ten-day trip included visits to four cities: Beijing, Shanghai, Shenzhen and Hong Kong. During that time, five key areas emerged for new opportunities and business development:
- Retail business / import products
- EB5 Regional Center Opportunity
- Research Center development
- Urban development
- Reciprocal trade missions
Related to direct foreign investments, the greatest interest from the Chinese was in tourism and recreation; multi-family living, senior housing and senior care; and hotel, conference and resort type facilities. “We have already followed up on major potential investment and development opportunities,” said Michael.
“As part of our strategy to attract Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) into our region, the trip to China was incredibly beneficial,” shared Dru Garson, the CEO at Greater Grays Harbor. “The networking, meetings, and contacts that we made were invaluable and very encouraging. I’m looking forward to additional opportunities to strengthen the relationships that were cultivated on our China trip and will continue to seek innovative partnerships that can benefit our regional economy in the future.”
EDC President and SCJ Alliance Principal Perry Shea was struck by how open and appreciative their hosts were to economic development opportunities. “I came away feeling like there were good opportunities to work with several business entities,” Perry said.
Part of the trip’s goal for TESC was to explore avenues for recruiting students to attend Evergreen, and to learn about possible internship and study abroad opportunities for TESC students in China. “A particular highlight was a visit to Wuyi University, located in Wuyishan, Fujian Province, a natural and cultural heritage site, with whom we will form a partnership,” said TESC’s Dr. David McAvity. “The trip to Shenzhen was also fascinating, particularly so were the vibrant (business) incubators and startups we visited, which provide great models for future entrepreneurship initiatives and collaborations.”
Over the next 12 months, many reciprocal business development missions are already planned with Chinese contingencies. If you would like more information about trade opportunities, and direct foreign investment potential, email Michael Cade.