Toledo business, civic delegation leaving for China tripWritten by Duane Ramsey | | firstname.lastname@example.org
A delegation of more than a dozen civic and business leaders are departing Nov. 13 for another trip to China for the purpose of bringing Chinese companies and investments to Toledo and the surrounding region.
The delegation has meetings scheduled with more than a dozen Chinese companies that are considering locating a U.S. operation in the Toledo area and Northwest Ohio. Several of those firms attended the 5 Lakes Global Economic Forum held in Toledo in September.
“This trip is a good follow-up to the forum and to other efforts in China made by Mayor (Mike) Bell, 5 Lakes Global Group, Regional Growth Partnership and others in the business community,” said Paul Zito, vice president of international development for Regional Growth Partnership (RGP).
The delegation is a cross section of business and government members from the community. In addition to Mayor Bell, the group includes Dean Monske, president and CEO of RGP, Frank Calzonetti, vice president of research and economic development at the University of Toledo, and other representatives of the high-tech, manufacturing, real estate and services industries, Zito said.
Mayor Bell and Monske will be making presentations on development and investment opportunities in Toledo and Northwest Ohio to hundreds of business people in China, Zito said.
Many of the business delegates on the trip to China will attend the Hi-Tech Fair in Shenzhen and will also visit Wuhan, Hangzhou and Shanghai. Zito said he will remain at the Hi-Tech Fair while others visit those cities before the delegation returns to Toledo on Nov. 21.
“It is a good way to spread our resources and to utilize the fair for investment and export opportunities. We want solid foreign investments that create good-paying jobs for our region,” Zito said.
Exports are an important part of international development in the local region, Zito said.
Exports from 1,500 companies in Lucas, Fulton, Ottawa and Wood counties totaled more than $4 billion in 2010 and were directly responsible for 11,000 jobs and 15 percent of the gross domestic product in the Toledo metro area, ranking 10th nationally, according to the Brookings Institution’s Export Nation 2012 report.
RGP works with partners, such as the International Trade Assistance Center and UT’s Global Target program to promote exports from this region, Zito said.
Although China has received a lot of attention in the local media recently, Zito said there are other efforts that RGP and its partners have taken to promote international development in this region. They are also planning trips to Canada, Japan and other countries to further promote the region.
“China is just one small piece of the pie when it comes to international development and investments,” Zito said.
Investment in the U.S. by China is only 6 percent of the foreign total while investments from the European Union comprise 66 percent, with strong contributions from Canada, Germany, Japan and other countries. RGP’s strategies reflect the potential from those other areas around the world, Zito said.
“We plan to focus on renewable energy, automotive manufacturing, plastic polymers and other technologies while promoting exports from this region around the world,” Zito said.
RGP is working with others in the region on planned trips to Canada, Japan and other countries to pursue economic development opportunities for Northwest Ohio from those nations.
There are currently more than 150 foreign-owned facilities in Toledo and Northwest Ohio that employ a total of about 21,000 people. Many of those companies have the potential to expand, leading to further investment and job creation, Zito said. Zito said 80 percent of growth and new investment comes from existing companies. There are at least a dozen facilities in the region owned by Japanese interests, for example.
UT is participating in the trip for several reasons, according to an email from Calzonetti, who was attending a conference in Denver and will catch up with the delegation in China.
First, UT is an economic development partner with the City of Toledo. Calzonetti said the school can help provide additional information on why Toledo is a good place for investment as well as a good place to live. Chinese investors may have an interest in UT technologies and academic programs.
UT is also interested in attracting top talent into its academic and research programs.
“We are interested in exploring collaborative relationships with Chinese universities that can bring together the strongest teams to address challenging problems,” Calzonetti stated in the email. “Given China’s growth as a major market, we need to understand latest trends and initiatives under way that can relate to our research and technology development programs at UT.”