World Business Chicago Connects with Business and Government Leaders in China


Joint Chicago-China business accelerator announced to provide resources for Chicago businesses and make Chicago a gateway for Chinese businesses

IMG_2655World Business Chicago, Deputy Mayor Steve Koch and Chicago-area business leaders recently completed an economic development mission to China. The group met with leaders from more than 100 companies and government officials in Shanghai, Shenyang, Beijing and Hangzhou, to continue implementation of the Gateways Cities Agreement. The agreement was created to expand trade and investment cooperation, strengthen communication, enhance trust, boost economic development, and create jobs.

While in Beijing, Deputy Mayor Koch and Assistant Minister of Commerce Zhang Xiangchen announced a joint Chicago-China business accelerator to provide resources for Chicago small and medium sized businesses looking to enter the Chinese market and make Chicago a gateway for Chinese businesses looking to invest in the United States.

“This new accelerator will support the growth of Chicago’s small businesses, expose Chicago to Chinese companies looking to invest here, and strengthen our longstanding ties with Beijing,” said Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel. “A partnership like this is an excellent example of how shared commerce and cooperation will help to solidify Chicago’s place in the global economy and create new jobs and opportunities here at home.”

Implemented by World Business Chicago and the Chinese Investment Promotion Agency of the Ministry of Commerce (MOFCOM), the accelerator will help expedite trade and investment by:

  • Increasing communication between the City and MOFCOM about businesses looking to trade, locate and expand in China or Chicago.
  • Establishing, or bringing together already existing incubators as “soft landing places” in each city for small businesses looking for permanent space.
  • Providing local support for businesses by finding resources including service firms, incentives, and others.

“Small and medium-sized businesses are the backbone of our economy,” said World Business Chicago President & CEO Jeff Malehorn. “Through the accelerator, Chicago companies have bolstered support and resources to reach global markets.”

WBC also hosted an alumni networking event for alumni of Chicago area universities that now live in China.

The Gateway Cities agreement was signed by Mayor Emanuel, Vice Minister of Commerce Wang Chao and the leadership of Beijing, Shanghai, Tianjin, Qingdao, Shenyang, Hangzhou, Wuhan, and Chengdu in December of 2013. The agreement strengthens ties between Chicago and China and establishes Chicago as the gateway to the U.S. for Chinese companies. The agreement focuses on manufacturing, tourism, finance and insurance, professional services, wholesale and retail, transportation and logistics, and infrastructure.

Under Mayor Emanuel’s leadership, the City of Chicago has continued to foster growth opportunities with China, including hosting the Vice Minister of Commerce Wang Chao, welcoming numerous delegations and hosting the U.S.-China Joint Commission on Commerce and Trade (JCCT). In addition, multiple prominent Chinese companies have started operations in Chicago, including Wanda Group, Goldwind, and Bank of China. Hainan Airlines and Cathay Pacific have also begun direct flights into Chicago O’Hare International Airport, increasing access to the city for Chinese business leaders.

China is one of Chicago’s largest trading partners with more than 50 Chinese companies in the city of Chicago and approximately 70 Chicago-headquartered companies with operations in China. Total trade between Illinois and China amounted to $34.1 billion in 2014. Chicago has seen double the number of Chinese investment projects (eight) in 2014 than in the year prior and in that time, the city saw the highest total single year investment by Chinese companies. China is now the third-largest foreign investor in greenfield projects (investments not including mergers & acquisitions) after the United Kingdom and Germany. More information on China-Chicago ties can be found on WBC’s website.

The traveling delegation included leaders from Baker & McKenzie LLP, The John Buck Company, Kirkland & Ellis LLC, Locke Lord LLP, Magellan Development Group, Sinode Systems, and the University of Chicago Innovation Exchange. The trip was funded by private donations.

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