Thursday, April 21, 2011

Local Leaders Meet with Chinese Mayors, Economic Officials to Further Metro Area U.S. – China Cooperation Zone


COMMERCE CITY – Twelve representatives from metro area municipalities - including Commerce City - are making the case directly to Chinese mayors and economic officials for a Front Range U.S.-China Cooperation Zone. Officials are in Seattle this week for the National League of Cities Leadership Academy on Local Economic Competitiveness in a Global Era, which provides local governments’ direct access to more than 90 Chinese officials interested in U.S. business opportunities.

“It’s exciting to see many communities engaged in international relationships to further the competitive position of the region,” said Commerce City Mayor Paul Natale, who helped create the U.S.-China initiative within the Metro Mayors Caucus. “The Denver metropolitan region is a perfect geographic location for Chinese businesses wanting to establish a presence in the United States . I was an early advocate of establishing ties, given the anticipated growth of the Chinese economy and its importance to the global marketplace. I’ve seen first-hand how Commerce City has benefited from a close partnership with the Chinese and am excited about the opportunities the new cooperation zone can bring the entire metropolitan area.”

Natale was joined in Seattle by Councilor Dominick Moreno and City Manager Jerry Flannery. Representatives from Westminster , Lakewood , Aurora , Longmont , and Firestone also attended the three-day session.

Co-hosted by the Trade Development Alliance of Greater Seattle, the event brought together teams of elected city officials, staff and regional leaders to discuss the opportunities and challenges of expanding trade relationships and attracting foreign direct investment. A high-level delegation of approximately 90 representatives from China, including mayors and business executives from Chongqing, Shanghai, Shenzhen, Xian, Taizhou and Weifang attended the event, representing the high-tech R&D, pharmaceuticals, aviation and space, auto manufacturing and high-speed transport/expressways industries.

“These meetings provided an opportunity to individually engage Chinese businesses, promoting the benefits of the metro area and Commerce City ,” said Councilor Dominick Moreno. “The city is well-positioned for job creating investments with these companies in our target industries. Our comprehensive land use code, zoning ordinances, diversity in housing and available workforce that exists in the city fits nicely with what these businesses are looking for.”

Mayor Paul Natale took the initiative to establish a relationship with China in 2008, working with local international consultant Alan Barber to begin having the Denver Metro area recognized as the place to do business on the international level. Since that time, he has represented Commerce City on numerous trips throughout the country, traveled to China to promote the region and hosted a delegation from Nanning . Mayor Natale's efforts have gained visibility not only in China but also in Canada , Germany , Mexico , and Turkey .

“Strong economic relationships between US cities and foreign countries are integral to the economic competitiveness of the US as a whole,” said James E. Mitchell Jr., NLC President and Councilmember, Charlotte , NC . “Through our Leadership Academy , we hope to not only encourage and highlight the positive economic relationships between the US and China , but also give local leaders the tools they need to expand global economic opportunities."