On behalf of Berks County and Foreign Trade Zone 147, Commissioner Kevin Barnhardt and Pamela Shupp, President of Foreign Trade Zone Corp of Southern PA (FTZSPA) traveled to the 2018 Chengdu Cross-Strait New Economic Innovation and Entrepreneurship Development Conference on June 7th in Chengdu, Pidu District, Sichuan Province. They were honored guests at the conference and the only US community represented – thanks to a Berks County, PA connection that works on behalf of Asia Stars – an organization contracted by the Chengdu government to identify investment and trade opportunities to Chengdu.
At the conference, Commissioner Barnhardt and Pamela made a presentation to introduce local companies and regional business opportunities in FTZ 147 to the Chengdu region government officials and companies and to promote our region as a cost-effective location for investment. They highlighted tools like FTZ 147 and its benefits to promote South-central PA as a strategic east coast location to reach domestic and international customers.
With a population of 16 million people and growth projections up to 25 million people in the next few years, Chengdu City has an aggressive strategic growth plan through 2035 and will soon be home to two international airports. Chengdu’s One Belt-One Road strategy and commitment will result in it being the transportation, logistic and cultural gateway to Asia, Africa and Europe.
In addition to similarities in targeted industries, there was also a familiar concern with the need to expand the workforce and talent development pipeline. As witnessed, their strategy involves a massive building boom in the construction of residential towers married with a rent program that incentivizes talent to locate and live in Chengdu. This region has learned from other cities how to make their communities a work/life center and amenities are an integral part of all the planned residential and office developments. A strategy that the South Central region should quickly embrace.
A successful relationship with China will take time, effort and strong commitment on both parts, but it will bring lasting and long-term benefit to the residents and businesses of the 11 county region of FTZ 147. Building relationships is just as important now as it has been in the past and FTZSPA is committed to a long-term strategy of relationship building to fuel the economic growth of our South Central PA community and region.
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