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Published: Tuesday, 5/17/2011

Agency plans offices in China

Growth Partnership to be in Beijing, near Hong Kong

BY SHEENA HARRISON
BLADE BUSINESS WRITER
Monske Monske
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The Regional Growth Partnership, northwest Ohio’s lead economic development agency, is working to open two offices in China, its chief executive officer said Monday.

CEO Dean Monske announced the international expansion during the agency’s annual meeting Monday at the Dana Conference Center in South Toledo. The offices are to be in Shenzhen, about 30 miles north of Hong Kong, and in Beijing.

“This is all about business, and business relationships,” Mr. Monske said of the international expansion.

Mr. Monske is to leave for China Wednesday with a local delegation that includes Perrysburg real estate broker Scott Prephan and Toledo Mayor Mike Bell. A deal for the China offices will be finalized during the trip, a spokesman for the partnership said.

Simon Guo, a Chinese translator and deal broker associated with Mr. Prephan, arranged for the office space at no cost. How many employees will work in each office or who will lead them is undecided.

Mr. Guo, founder of the “China CEO Club,” plans to arrange meetings between Toledo-area business leaders and CEO Clubs in other countries, including India, South Korea, Saudi Arabia, Malaysia, and other countries, Mr. Monske said.

“The goal is going to be to brand RGP in these other countries as well [as those] that have CEO Clubs, because they’re connected at the very top level of government and the business community,” said Mr. Monske, who attended meetings in Dubai with Mr. Guo and Mr. Prephan five weeks ago.

This was Mr. Monske’s first annual meeting as the CEO of the growth partnership. He was chosen to lead the organization in February, and previously was deputy mayor for external affairs for the city of Toledo.

He said the growth partnership will focus on additional strategies for business attraction and retention this year, including promoting the area in national media.

David Waterman, growth partnership chairman, on Monday detailed plans to merge Rocket Ventures, the organization’s $22.5 million venture-capital program for technology start-ups, with University of Toledo Innovation Enterprises, the university’s investment fund for early-stage businesses. The groups will combine services, while funds and investment decisions for each would remain separate.

Mr. Waterman said the move will help Rocket Ventures reduce costs.

Contact Sheena Harrison at: sharrison@theblade.com or 419-724-6103.











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