By Paul Cowley
For a Central Alberta economic development group, the recent trade mission to China is about planting relationship seeds.
Alberta Economic Development and Trade Minister Deron Bilous held a news conference on Friday to trumpet the success of the recent mission to China and Japan.
Alberta and Chinese organizations signed or announced 20 agreements during the mission last month.
Nearly 90 Alberta businesses and organizations went along, including Access Prosperity, an economic development partnership including the City of Red Deer, Red Deer County, Red Deer and District Chamber of Commerce and Red Deer College along with more than 40 member municipalities in the Central Alberta Economic Partnership.
Red Deer County Mayor Jim Wood was making his second trip to China this year to pitch the opportunities in Central Alberta along with Access Prosperity’s investment attraction officer Pam Steckler.
They didn’t come back with any signed agreements, but they did build on existing relationships with potential Chinese customers and investors and make some new connections, said the mayor.
“I feel we have been making inroads,” he said.
Steckler says in a statement that pre-existing relationships were solidified and new ones forged.
“We are hopeful in continuing the conversations with an inbound delegation in the New Year.”
China’s business world is built on establishing strong working relationships over time before anyone signs on the dotted line of an agreement.
Wood, who paid his own way to China, said elected representatives such as mayors carry a lot of weight with their Chinese hosts. “If I can help open doors for our community, that’s what I’m there for,” he said.