Georgia Department of Economic Development Commissioner Chris Carr later this month is set to lead a two-week trip to East Asia to drum up new business for the state and express appreciation for existing investors.
He’ll first take a group to four cities in China before jetting over from Shanghai to Japan, where the state has had an investment office for more than 40 years.
In China, the group will start off in Hong Kong, a destination delegations have tended to skip over in past forays into the mainland. Leaders of the special administrative region have touted the city as an ideal portal through which to attract Chinese investors looking to internationalize.
Georgia saw proof of the viability of that approach this week, as a mainland-based, Hong Kong-listed company bought a controlling stake in Georgia solar standout Suniva Inc.
On the ground, the delegation will be hosted by Raymond Chengof the SoZo Group, an advisory firm helping Chinese companies enter the U.S., particularly the South. Mr. Cheng and SoZo played a key role in attracting Golden Dragon Precise Copper Tubing Co.‘s $100 million factory to Alabama in 2013.
The group will then set off in six vans to visit Huawei Technologies in Shenzhen, where they’ll tour facilities and meet with leaders. The privately owned technology giant has a small office in Georgia but no major presence; the company has repeatedly shown interest in the U.S. market but has been rebuffed over national security concerns. While in Shenzhen, the group will meet with government leaders in the Futian district, which houses the downtown area of the sprawling city of 13 million.
From there, they’ll head to Qingdao, where Georgia’s China office is nestled in a building branded by Hisense, the appliance and electronics giant. Hisense has its American headquarters, along with an R&D center, in Gwinnett County. The company will take attendees on a tour of a flat-screen television factory. While in Qingdao, they’ll also have a chance to visit the Tsingtao brewery and meet with company officials from China’s best-known beer brand.
The last stop in China is Shanghai, where they’ll check in with the company tapped to promote Georgia as a tourist destination. Interspersed along the way will be meetings with undisclosed prospect considering Georgia investments. Making his Georgia debut on the tour will be John Ling, the state’s recently named China representative, who was hired away after more than 15 successful years with the state of South Carolina.
In Japan, the agenda will largely center on expressing appreciation for the strong historic business ties that have led to recent expansions.
The first stop is the Osaka base of Kubota Corp., the tractor manufacturer that recently announced that it would build a new factory in Gainesville employing 650 more people, bringing the company’s employment in the city to nearly 2,000.
The group at various times will also meet with Nichiha, Toppan Printing and Yamaha Motors, all of which have major manufacturing plants in Georgia. On the final day, a Georgia-Japan Business Appreciation Dinner will be held, preceded by a business luncheon with the Tokyo Chamber of Commerce.
The Japan delegation will include officials from across a number of state agencies, including the Governor’s Office of Planning and Budget, Department of Labor, Department of Community Affairs, Department of Driver Services, Georgia EMC and Electric Cities of Georgia.
Other groups represented on the trip include EnviroClean LLC and the Metro Atlanta Chamber, the Griffin-Spalding Development Authority, which has recently recruited three new Japanese firms.
Most of the officials, especially from state agencies, will also be present in China.