Toledo Mayor Mike Bell and Gao Guohui, deputy secretary-general of the Shenzhen Municipal government, shake hands after signing a cooperative agreement between the two cities.
THE BLADE/IGNAZIO MESSINA
Like he has done numerous times, Mayor Mike Bell today welcomed visitors from China looking to expand investment, but this time the visiting delegation jetted into only one North American city during their travels: Toledo.
Gao Guohui, deputy secretary-general of the Shenzhen municipal government, and 13 other representatives of the China Hi-Tech Fair in the Chinese city of Shenzhen near Hong Kong, arrived early today to meet with Mayor Bell in his 22nd floor office.
After spending seven days in Brazil and Colombia, the group arrived last night in Toledo. They are scoping out sites for a possible North America hi-tech fair, Mr. Bell said.
“We are making this trip on behalf of Shenzhen business delegation, really under the invitation of Mayor Bell when you paid a visit to our city last year,” Mr. Gao said through a translator. “We would like to pay special tributes to this friendship relationship between the city of Shenzhen and Toledo.”
Mayor Bell took his fourth trade mission to China last year. He accompanied about 20 Toledo-area businessmen to the country. He said today's visit is more proof his efforts overseas are working.
“Now we have people coming here on their own, they are investing as much money if not more than we are, to get here, to try to create the relationships,” Mr. Bell said. “The group came only here because we have a relationship. It's all about relationships. They have come here and they know this is a good place; they have friends here, [and] they have people willing to work with them.”
The Toledo economic development delegation that went to China in November, 2012, started the trip in Shenzhen at the China Hi-Tech Fair.
Today's visit was coordinated by the Regional Growth Partnership and 5 Lakes Global Group Ltd., a consulting group headed by Simon Guo, a Chinese translator, deal broker, and Toledo-area resident who repeatedly has brought Chinese investors to the region.
Mr. Guo was among the team that first introduced Mayor Bell to investors from China who ultimately purchased the Marina District and Docks restaurant complex land from the city.
Contact Ignazio Messina at: email@example.com or 419-724-6171.