By Kate Martin, April 16, 2014, The News Tribune
Tacoma Mayor Marilyn Strickland will travel to China next month to promote the city’s business opportunities to investors.
She will be part of a three-person delegation, which includes the city’s economic development chief Ricardo Noguera and consultant Michael Fowler, who works for the Port of Tacoma on the Tacoma-Fuzhou Trade Project.
Tacoma’s sister city, Fuzhou, has offered to pay for the trip, May 18-22.
The following month, Tacoma will host a Chinese delegation for the third-annual Pacific Northwest China Trade and Investment Summit at Hotel Murano.
“This is really about cultivating relationships. You don’t go to China and come back with a billion-dollar deal in hand,” Strickland said Tuesday afternoon. “This is a strategic move on our part to show off the assets that we have.”
Those assets include the area’s clean air and water, the beautiful views of Mount Rainier, access to a major airport and proximity to Interstate 5, said Martha Anderson, assistant director of the city’s economic development office.
The discussion was held during a committee of the whole meeting, where the council learned more about a potential deal for a four-star hotel next to the Greater Tacoma Convention and Trade Center.
The sister city program with Fuzhou began in 2008, Fowler said.
“When the Chinese want to invest, they want to have a friend here, someone to help them through (processes) and someone they can rely on here,” Fowler said.
Parents in China want their children to have access to an American education and have sent their children here for weeks or a few months.
“When you have their child here, they tend to want to come and visit,” Fowler said of the parents. “When the Chinese come here, they are just impressed. … They have nature within sight, especially in Tacoma.”
Strickland said the traditional view of government is not going to be enough. To be stronger economically, Tacoma will have to engage more than picking up garbage and answering 911 calls.
“We cannot underestimate the value of a visit to China,” she said.