The mayor of Ningbo, China, Mao Guanglie, invited Atlanta companies to invest in his city’s massive infrastructure and logistic projects, including the construction of a new bridge connecting Ningbo to Shanghai that, when completed in 2008, will be the longest bridge in the world.

During a luncheon at the World Trade Center Atlanta last week, Mr. Mao also encouraged Atlanta companies to utilize the small business services available in his port city’s industrial and technology parks to position themselves to take advantage of the dynamic economic growth in the southern China region.

“We hope to have high-tech investment from U.S. corporations…to be at the forefront of the opening of China’s economy,” Mr. Mao said through a translator.

Ningbo, located south of Shanghai in the Yangtze River Delta, is one of the fastest-growing cities in mainland China, one of the best cities for international business and investment and one of the best located Chinese cities for international trade, the mayor said.

The city has more than $6 billion worth of investment projects available, including port-related projects and energy infrastructure projects, as well as high-tech initiatives in biomedicine, information technology, bio- and petrochemicals, environmental efforts and even traditional industries like garments and appliances, Mr. Mao said.

Ningbo’s high-tech business center serves as an incubator for technology-intensive enterprises, and its industrial parks encourage small foreign and domestic firms to open operations there, Mr. Mao said.

One of China’s oldest starting points for silk trade, Ningbo houses one of China’ most active ports, he added. Ningbo’s five deepwater port areas operate 360 days a year and can accommodate the largest container ships. With 191 operating berths, Ningbo Port ranked second in mainland China and fifth in the world in cargo tonnage in 2004, with 225 million tons passing through the port. It ranked 22nd in the world in 2003 in terms of container throughput, climbing to 17th in 2004, Mr. Mao said.

Some $16.7 billion of Chinese products were exported through Ningbo Port last year, he added, noting that exports through the port have been increasing at a rate of 30 percent for the past several years.

Ningbo City has one of the highest gross domestic product growth rates among Chinese mainland cities, growing at an average of 15 percent for the past 300 months, Mr. Mao said. Its current GDP per capita is $4,700, and this is expected to continue to grow at two-digit rates over the next three years, he added.

Mr. Mao said Ningbo is similar to Atlanta because both are logistics centers. He added that he and Atlanta Mayor Shirley Franklin have signed a “friendship agreement,” and he hopes the relationship between the two cities’ governments will facilitate trade and investment.

Mr. Mao’s visit to Atlanta, which was part of a tour of several U.S. cities, was organized in part by the Georgia chapter of the NingBo Business Promotion Association. Jane Li, the association’s president and a Ningbo native, told GlobalAtlanta that the association hopes to attract members in the Atlanta area who are interested in developing business relationships with Ningbo.

Contact Ms. Li for more information at (770) 674-2571 or Contact the Nour Group Inc. or Munson Contact Design Group Inc., organizers of the Atlanta luncheon, at (678) 528-3650 or visit