Ohio seeks to shine again with China cooperation

Government officials, business leaders and cultural exchange associations in the US Rust Belt state of Ohio have voiced willingness to cooperate with their Chinese counterparts.

Government officials, business leaders and cultural exchange associations in the US Rust Belt state of Ohio have voiced their willingness to cooperate with their Chinese counterparts in multi-faceted ways.

In a meeting with Deputy Chinese Consul General in New York Qian Jin and Fuyao Glass North America President Jeff Liu, representatives of business associations and local governments in Montgomery County praised the automobile glass manufacturer’s prior move to build a plant in Moraine, Dayton.

In 2014, Fuyao acquired a closed General Motors facility in Moraine and invested more than US$600 million turning it into a 2-million-square-feet glass manufacturing plant.

Niraj Antani, representative of the 42nd district in the Ohio House of Representatives, said the fact that an automobile parts manufacturer had utilized a former GM building was significant. The plant now employs more than 2,300 people, the vast majority of whom are local, including many who were laid off when GM closed its facility. For each job that the plant creates, there are two or three more created along the supply chain, in industries such as component suppliers, logistics companies, construction contractors, and waste management plants.

The community wants to see more Chinese companies follow in Fuyao’s footsteps to invest in the county, create job opportunities, contribute to local tax revenues and help revitalize the area.

Philip Parker, president of the Dayton Area Chamber of Commerce, welcomed “the possibility of other Chinese investment that we think will come along that can be a synergy that we’ve seen with other industries with other countries.”

Mitch Heaton, vice president of economic development at Dayton Development Coalition, said he had recently visited China and spent five days with 11 companies in China’s Fujian Province.

“We want to help these companies with their globalization efforts,” said Heaton. Representatives of local business and economic development organizations also see more US companies doing businesses with China. “We are glad that the economics are changing in your country so that you become an even better marketplace for us,” said Parker.

Ups and downs

Antani said trade breeds good relationships. As long as the two countries are trading with each other and the two economies depend on each other, the relationship will improve.

Jason Dunn, group vice president of diversity sales & inclusion at the Cincinnati USA Convention & Visitors Bureau, said the city of Cincinnati has been pushing for direct flights to China.

Local tourist authorities have also been improving infrastructure to make Chinese people feel welcome.

He believed the city will see more Chinese tourists in the years to come.

Paul D. Orkwis, interim dean of College of Engineering and Applied Science at the University of Cincinnati, said the university has been strengthening cooperation with its counterparts in China. The university partnered with China’s Chongqing University to launch the Joint Engineering Co-op Institute in 2013, a five-year program in which half the course of study is taught by professors from each university.

The students spend five semesters working at Chinese companies.

There are currently 460 students in the program. Orkwis said the college views the program as an opportunity not just to get Chinese students to come to the US, but for American students to have an international experience without having to leave the country.

Asked whether he is worried about recent tensions between the two countries affecting educational exchanges, Orkwis said there are always ups and downs in relationships, but in the long run, things will get better. “The more exchanges, the more we have students coming and studying here in the United States and see how things are, the more understanding grows,” said Orkwis.

Special Reports