LVEDC Official Returns from Business Development Tour in China
By Colin McEvoy on June 9, 2017
As part of its ongoing efforts to attract international investment to the Lehigh Valley, one of the top officials from the Lehigh Valley Economic Development Corporation (LVEDC) recently returned from a two-week business development tour in China.
Matthew Tuerk, LVEDC Vice President of Economic Development and Marketing, visited companies and officials in Beijing, Shangai, Yangzhou, Tainjin, Guangzhou, and other cities to discuss the benefits of establishing U.S. operations in the Lehigh Valley.
“It’s crucial to put in the effort to visit these companies at their home offices and discuss the opportunities available to them in the Lehigh Valley,” Tuerk said. “China is a relationship-based economy, and so it’s important for LVEDC to keep open lines of communication with companies and representatives on the mainland.”
This marks the second time in as many years that LVEDC has embarked on an international business development tour overseas. LVEDC President and CEO Don Cunningham underwent a similar tour in Western Europe in 2015.
This underscores the growing importance of foreign direct investment in the Lehigh Valley economy. About one-third of our current prospects are from outside the country, and 42 percent of the Lehigh Valley’s major business attraction and expansion projects in 2015 were international companies, including Safran, Primark, SunOpta, Nihon Kohden, and others
Tuerk met with the Presidents and CEOs of several Chinese companies interested in investing in the U.S., and provided them details about the Lehigh Valley’s economic assets, available real estate market, labor opportunities, and proximity to major ports.
Among these companies were a manufacturer of LED street lights in Beijing, a manufacturer of kitchenware in Guangzhou, a furniture manufacturer in Tainjin, and a private equity firm with holdings in virtual reality, drone technology, computer chip manufacturing, and robotics.
Representatives from some of these companies are planning follow-up visits to Pennsylvania, according to Tuerk, who said LVEDC would work to modify its marketing materials to better communicate the region’s assets to the Chinese market moving forward.
“With a population and economy the size of China, there’s enough economic activity that it’s very important for states and regions to maintain a robust business attraction program to attract some of that investment,” he said.
Tuerk also visited Invest Shanghai, the city’s trade promotion and investment promotion agency, and met with the president of the Shanghai Foreign Investment Development Board. They discussed what Shanghai companies are seeking in the United States, and Tuerk provided information about the Lehigh Valley.
Tuerk also attended a performance of the Philadelphia Symphony Orchestra at the Shanghai Oriental Art Center, where he met with several Shanghai-based venture capital investors interested in investments in the tech and life sciences sectors.
Additionally, Tuerk visited the Yangzhou Foreign Affairs Office and learned about redevelopment efforts underway in that city, and also met with the U.S. Department of Commerce attaché at the Beijing embassy for a discussion about the investment climate in China.
The trip was organized by the Office of International Business Development (OIBD), which is part of the Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development. The OIBD has a large network of overseas offices with contractors available to identify prospects and opportunities for the Commonwealth, and support international companies that choose to invest in Pennsylvania.
Tuerk traveled with officials from OIBD, including Irene Tasi, the trade representative for China and Taiwan. She regularly communicates with Chinese companies on behalf of Pennsylvania, and helped bring the Lehigh Valley to the attention of Fuling Plastics, China’s largest manufacturer of plastic tableware and kitchenware, which established its first U.S. facility in Upper Macungie Township in 2014.
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