State Trade Mission Courts China; Officials on an Eight-Day Trip Hope to Open the Door for Future Ventures

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ATLANTA -- If you'd like 1.3 billion customers, the state of Georgia is trying to line them up with a trade mission to China this week.

Or you could one day wind up working for a Chinese company with a factory here.

But Georgia Commissioner of Economic Development Craig Lesser said Wednesday by telephone from Beijing that the goal of the eight-day trip was not to return with multiple contracts. Instead, he said, the goal is to lay the foundation that would lead to many ventures in the years ahead.

"This visit was really not about specific deals," he said.

One Chinese company, Lehui Enterprises, has already announced it will hire 200 people in Newnan for its Kingwasong LLC plant to make food sauces. And the state can also build on the trade that already flows through the ports of Savannah and Brunswick to or from China, which amounted to $12.1 billion last year.

"This is one of those seed-planting endeavors," said Lynn Pitts, senior vice president of the Savannah Economic Development Authority.

Both Pitts and Lesser were impressed with how much the Chinese officials already were aware of Georgia and its assets, largely because of the Olympics. …


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