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Holly Schroeder: Importance of foreign relations

Posted: April 29, 2014 2:00 a.m.
Updated: April 29, 2014 2:00 a.m.

We live in a global world with a global economy. Never did that concept become so clear to me than on the Trade and Investment Mission to China led by Supervisor Antonovich earlier this month.

A group of six business leaders from the Santa Clarita Valley, including me, joined Supervisor Antonovich on visits to Shenzhen and Hong Kong, located in what is known as the Pearl Delta Region of China.
While the supervisor has made many trips to Asia, this was my first.

Shenzhen is a “special economic zone” in China, meaning that it has a unique designation that allows more free-market-oriented economic policies and flexible governmental measures than in other areas of China.

Shenzhen was the first such zone in China, created in 1979. Since that time, it has grown from a small fishing village of 200,000 people to a bustling metropolis of 15 million.

That’s about the same amount of time as it took to build Valencia.

Shenzhen’s buildings, however, consist of skyscrapers in every direction. Its tallest building, Kingkey 100, is about the same height as the Willis Tower in Chicago and has a vertical scrolling marquee at night.

More buildings are under construction, and you can’t look in any direction and not see a construction crane.

The buildings we visited were state of the art, including one building that was certified LEED-Gold, the second-highest standard for green building.

Shenzhen’s economy has climbed just like building heights. Once it was designated as a special economic zone, Shenzhen focused on the export economy and served as a manufacturing hub for China.

It operates the world’s fourth busiest port. The city has since established large industrial parks to encourage development of new technology, and now large companies in Shenzhen are conducting significant and innovative research and securing patents worldwide.

Some of China’s largest companies operate in Shenzhen, and I was struck by how unfamiliar their names were.

The delegation was familiar with BYD since it has a manufacturing operation in Lancaster. But Coolpad — the world’s seventh largest manufacturer of cell phones? Unknown to me.

An innovator in clean room and electrostatic discharge technology, Selen Science & Technology, is the largest company in its field in China, and third largest in the world.

We met with these companies because they want to expand in the U.S. market, and I’m sure their names will become more recognizable as they do so.

Hong Kong describes itself as the “Gateway to China,” which makes sense since the city is a major source of investment into China and half of the trade with China flows through it.

Hong Kong has been named the “Freest Economy in the World” because of its transparent tax and administrative processes.

Punctuated by a beautiful skyline, bridges, and ferries, Hong Kong boasts low unemployment and high fiscal reserves. This powerhouse economy is within five hours, by plane, of half the residents of the world.

The sheer size and growth in this region underscored that we operate in a global economy. Companies here have grown rapidly despite only a small portion of their sales occurring in the U.S., and they barely felt the economic recession that affected the U.S. so deeply.

Our delegation spoke to numerous companies and organizations about the opportunities in the U.S. market and in Los Angeles County during our week-long visit.

We highlighted the business opportunities in the Santa Clarita Valley and the synergies with companies already operating here. We showcased our workforce training programs.

We offered a range of options on how these companies can enter the U.S. market here, from third-party fulfillment and logistics to investment and development options.

Our well-educated workforce and high quality of life made the SCV an appealing option for their U.S. growth plans.
Trips such as this enhance the cooperation between the Santa Clarita Valley and the world. Increased exchange of investment and trade between regions grows both economies and the companies within them.

Our valley is going global, and I am excited about the possibilities ahead.

Holly Schroeder is president and CEO of the Santa Clarita Valley Economic Development Corporation.



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