Columbus’ ties to China, which have brought companies, jobs, immigrants and investments here, could grow even stronger.
A group of Chinese officials will tour Columbus on Friday, making it one of just six communities in the United States the delegates are visiting as they seek investment opportunities.
About 20 advisers from China’s foreign investment bureau, including provincial and national leaders, will meet with the mayor and other city leaders, said Ryan Hou, CEO of LHP Inc., who has been part of Columbus business delegations to China.
Mayor Kristen Brown said the opportunity and exposure would be “tremendous.”
“It gives us the opportunity to sell these individuals on what a unique community Columbus, Indiana, is,” Brown said.
“We want them to walk away with an appreciation and understanding of what we have to offer,” added Jason Hester, executive director of the Columbus Economic Development Board.
Hester and Brown said they want to share details of how Columbus is a good business environment, has a strong workforce and is a welcoming community with a great quality of life.
Columbus was high on the list of Indiana communities to highlight for the Chinese group, said Mark Van Fleet, Purdue University’s executive director of global business engagement. Purdue organized the visit.
Columbus officials have made many trips to China and “Ryan is a very good communicator and marketer of the virtues of Indiana and Columbus. Cummins has a lot of Chinese connections,” Van Fleet said. “(Columbus) is one of the leading communities in the state that has Chinese connections.”
Cummins Inc. is the largest investor in diesel engine technology in China, has operations there and earns millions of dollars in sales in China. In October, Cummins announced a joint venture in China to build midrange engines. Cummins and Guanxi LiuGong Machinery Co. plan to begin producing engines at a new facility in Liuzhou City, southern China, in 2013.
LHP also has strong business ties to China. It has engineering operations in Wuhan. In April 2010, for example, it announced a joint venture with Techtop Industries, the U.S. subsidiary of Shanghai Top Motors and Simo Motors of China. The venture promised a $4.3 million investment and five new jobs here in Columbus.
Columbus has two sister cities in China, Xiangyang City and Wuxi, and four Chinese companies have operations here, Hester said.
Purdue started its Global Business Engagement initiative 18 months ago to help Indiana companies and Purdue do business around the world. Purdue leveraged its connections with China’s national Ministry of Commerce to organize the visit to the United States, Van Fleet said.
Chinese business delegations usually tour large American cities, so including Indiana on their itinerary is special, Van Fleet said.
The group is touring Indianapolis, Columbus, French Lick and Lafayette in Indiana, and New York City and Silicon Valley.
Those who will come are doing so on behalf of Chinese companies that would like to invest abroad and would like to know good places to expand. So, the representatives have a lot of influence on investment, Van Fleet said.
Indiana and China have strong economic connections. Since 2008, the Indiana Economic Development Corp. has secured projects from Chinese-based companies that have promised more than $155 million in new investment and 430 new jobs, said Katelyn Hancock, director of media relations for the IEDC.
China is Indiana’s second-largest Asian trading partner, Hancock said.
“Indiana and China share many economic similarities, such as the automotive industry, which makes it a good fit,” Hancock said.
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