The recent Atlanta visit of China’s vice minister of commerce, Ma Xiuhong, marked Georgia’s rise in prominence as a global business leader, according to Ken Stewart, the state’s commissioner for economic development.

“It’s recognition, frankly, that our state is on the world stage now,” Mr. Stewart said in a GlobalAtlanta video interview during Ms. Ma’s visit to Atlanta May 10-12.

Ms. Ma and a delegation of 110 Chinese businesspeople— the largest foreign business mission to visit Atlanta–were here to learn about Georgia business opportunities and celebrate a $30 million investment in metro Atlanta from Shanghai-based General Protecht Group.

General Protecht CEO and Chinese billionaire Wusheng Chen announced his plans to buy a 200-acre lot in Barnesville to build an electrical component manufacturing facility that will employ about 240 people.

There was also discussion that the property will eventually house an industrial park that will attract additional Chinese investment, Chinese officials said.

Ms. Ma’s visit and the General Protecht announcement are the result of a three-year initiative by Georgia’s public and private sector to build closer ties with China, according to Hans Gant, senior vice president of economic development at the Metro Atlanta Chamber of Commerce.

“This is the culmination of all of that effort,” he said, referring to visits buy city and state officials to China and efforts on the part of Atlanta’s business and professional leaders to grow and maintain relationships in China.

Atlanta Mayor Shirley Franklin led a business delegation to China in September, just one month after state economic development officials visited the country to scout out a location for Georgia’s new representative office in Beijing.

Delta Air Lines Inc. has also been diligently working with Chinese officials for more than a year to open a direct flight between Atlanta and Shanghai.

Gov. Sonny Perdue will continue Georgia’s business momentum there when he visits China in October.

Ms. Ma’s visit to Atlanta was a part of a larger delegation of Chinese businesspeople who are visiting 23 states over the next few weeks to promote China as a foreign direct investor and importer of U.S. goods.

Before arriving in Atlanta, Ms. Ma visited San Francisco where she announced China’s commitment to buy $4.3 billion in U.S. technologies.

The promotion campaign precedes federal-level discussions between China and the U.S. that are to take place in Washington at the end of the month and are expected to address the U.S.’s $232 billion trade deficit with China.

Before announcing Mr. Chen’s intentions to invest in Georgia at a press conference at the Embassy Suites Hotel downtown May 11, the Chinese delegation was hosted for dinner May 10 by law firm Womble Carlyle Sandridge & Rice PLLC.

Story Contacts, Links and Related Stories