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Published: Tuesday, 8/27/2013 - Updated: 7 months ago

China mission to visit Toledo

Delegation considers city for branch of Shenzhen trade fair

BY JON CHAVEZ
BLADE BUSINESS WRITER
Mayor Bell, flanked by Dean Monske, Harlan Reichle, and Scott Prephan, talk with potential investors about possibilities in Toledo at the China Hi-Tech Fair Shenzhen, China in November, 2012. Mayor Bell, flanked by Dean Monske, Harlan Reichle, and Scott Prephan, talk with potential investors about possibilities in Toledo at the China Hi-Tech Fair Shenzhen, China in November, 2012.
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Representatives from the largest technology trade fair in China will be in Toledo on Thursday to survey the city as a possible site for a 2014 branch version of their annual trade event.

The delegation from the China Hi-Tech Fair held annually in Shenzhen, China, plans to discuss its intentions on Thursday.

Mayor Mike Bell and a delegation from Toledo attended the Shenzhen fair last November.

The visit is an outgrowth from the mayor’s visit to China and the four-day 5 Lakes Global Economic Forum held in September last year at the Park Inn downtown that brought Chinese investors and businessmen to the city to meet with northwest Ohio counterparts.

John Gibney, a spokesman for the Regional Growth Partnership, which is helping to coordinate the visit for the trade show officials, said local officials have been told by their Chinese counterparts that Toledo is the only city in North America that is being considered for a branch of the trade show.

Previously, the China Hi-Tech Fair has held branch shows in Israel, Belgium, and Hungary. It is also looking to put a branch of the show in South America.

“Basically, they’re here to determine if they’re going to move ahead with this,” Mr. Gibney said.

The group plans to meet with Mayor Bell at 8 a.m. Thursday.

The two sides are expected to sign a memorandum of understanding on how they can work together to stage a trade fair in Toledo.

The Shenzhen event draws up to 500,000 people, and November’s Hi-Tech Fair had 2,500 investors attend. The Toledo delegation were the only representatives from a U.S. city at the event.

If a deal can be worked out, a version of the trade fair would be held at SeaGate Centre and Huntington Center downtown.

Mr. Gibney said trade show delegates would be dozens of Chinese technology businesses seeking new customers in the United States.

The trade fair would be the first step in a three-step process the Regional Growth Partnership likes to encourage: foreign businesses gaining northwest Ohio customers, then adding sales and distribution facilities, and eventually setting up manufacturing.

Northwest Ohio is home to dozens of foreign manufacturers, including several Asian companies, who used that process to set up manufacturing plants.

The Hi-Tech Fair delegation will arrive Wednesday night, meet with the mayor on Thursday morning, hold a news conference later in the morning, then take a tour of the area that will include the Toledo Museum of Art, Owens Corning, and the University of Toledo.

The delegation plans to meet with Paul Zito, vice president of international development for the growth partnership; Steve Miller, general manager of the SeaGate Centre and Huntington Center, and Bob Holden, chairman of the Midwest-U.S. China Association. Mr. Holden is a former governor of Missouri.

Contact Jon Chavez at: jchavez@theblade.com or 419-724-6128.



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