DeKalb County has linked up with a Chinese community in an effort to attract investment from the Asian nation.
A six-member delegation from the Jiangdong district of Ningbo, China, visited the county on Sept. 10 to sign a cooperation agreement with DeKalb CEO Burrell Ellis.
“We look forward to working with the Jiangdong District for years to come, and we are certain that our friendship will result in many beneficial exchanges,” Mr. Ellis said in a statement.
The visit reciprocated multiple DeKalb trade missions to China over the past three years, during which leaders marketed the county to potential investors.
Jane Li, a businesswoman who represents Ningbo in Atlanta, began taking DeKalb leaders to Chinese investment conferences and consumer goods shows in 2008. This June they visited Ningbo for the third straight summer.
The consistent trips have helped DeKalb build solid relationships in the Jiangdong district, which is one of the city’s largest, oldest and best-known areas, Ms. Li said. It has a population of about 360,000; the broader Ningbo metro area is home to nearly 6 million. DeKalb, metro Atlanta’s second most populous county, has more than 700,000 people.
“DeKalb County now has built up its name in Ningbo,” Ms. Li said. “A lot of people know DeKalb County and that they’re very interested in doing business with China and Ningbo in particular.”
DeKalb and Jiangdong have a variety of similarities, including a shared commitment to education, environmental responsibility and a vibrant business scene, Ms. Li said.
The new partnership, which sets the stage for both business and cultural exchanges, has considerable economic potential, Ms. Li said. It’s a simple match: DeKalb has good logistics infrastructure and many available buildings; Ningbo companies are looking to establish overseas offices and distribution centers.
“A lot of them export products made in Ningbo to the U.S. and European countries and as they grow and become larger, they can’t always just do business from China,” Ms. Li said.
In 2007, Ms. Li helped lead an effort to establish Ningbo as a sister city for Atlanta. Atlanta’s Sister City Commission recommended Ningbo over two other Chinese cities but the City Council never voted to make it official.
Ms. Li said the DeKalb agreement with Jiangdong would help spur on Atlanta-Ningbo relationship.
Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed said Wednesday that he would create a new international department at the city and revitalize relationships with Atlanta’s existing sister cites, but he made no mention of establishing new ones.