Southern states gear up for symposium

Updated: 2013-10-28 07:22

By YU WEI in San Francisco (China Daily USA)

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Mike Schmitz, mayor of Dothan, Alabama, has returned from his second trade mission to China this year with tangible benefits for his region's economy.

Within three weeks, the southern Alabama city will be in the spotlight for international traders when it hosts the US China Manufacturing Symposium on Nov 11, which will bring 400 Chinese business leaders to the city.

"Chinese business leaders will come to Dothan and meet US economic developers and mayors and anyone interested in developing a relationship with China," said Schmitz. "Hopefully, it will create business investments in the US.

"Our goal for the upcoming symposium is to bring a number of speakers from China and US together to talk to American economic developers about what's going on in China, and how business relationships can benefit both China and the US," he said.

The symposium will be held in two parts. The November event will focus on doing business with China, as well as how businesses can prepare for the second part, which will be held in March 2014, and will be open to anyone who is interested in learning more about US-China business relations and investment opportunities

Schmitz's second trip to China this year started at Beijing, included stops in Hong Kong, Guangzhou, Shenzhen and Dalianand and wrapped up in Shanghai on Oct 22.

Also along on the trip were Thomasville, AL, Mayor Sheldon Day, Monroe County, AL, commission chair Greg Norris and Huntersville, NC, Mayor Jill Swain.

The goal for Schmitz is to strengthen Dothan's trade relationship he had built before with the world's second largest economy.

Things went so well on the initial trip that Nanjing Zijin-Lead Electronics Co, one of the leading manufacturers of 3D printers in China, is considering building factories in Dothan.

"During my first trip, I went to visit their manufacturing company, and was very impressed," said Schmitz. "3D manufacturing is something I really want to have in our community. I absolutely want to work out something with them."

Compared to large city like New York, Schmitz said Dothan could offer lower costs on infrastructure, taxes and labor. "I believe they can be more profitable and more efficient when they start up their business in the US," he said, adding that such investment could also create jobs for the local community.

Last year, Chinese foreign direct investment in the US hit record levels as the country concluded deals worth $6.5 billion, an increase of 12 percent from the record $5.8 billion in 2010, according to a report by the Rhodium Group. In the first six months of 2013, Chinese investors completed transactions totaling $4.7 billion, marking the strongest first half ever.

Mayor Jill Swain said she expects the investment wave will continue and said there are many opportunities for Chinese corporations in Huntersville and in North Carolina.

"We are poised for high tech and innovation, energy, service industries and infrastructure. I think we also have opportunities for businesses here to distribute their products in China," Swain said.

In addition to the great location and a number of high-level educational institutions her city had, Swain said they are a state that offers job training — based on each company's needs.

"The main goal for this October trip was to continue with the efforts and outreach made in May," she said. "The fact that we are making the effort to go to China and meet potential investors should be a strong indicator that we truly want to welcome them to our town. We're excited for the potential."