“It’s critical for those Barrie businesses we are with to leverage the political support of having a mayor and city councillor with them, to open the right doors and meet the right people.” – Ward 7 Coun. John Brassard
by John Devine
Mayor Jeff Lehman, Ward 7 Coun. John Brassard and Barrie’s director of economic development, Hany Kirolos, are going to China for a trade mission, along with representatives of four local businesses.
The mission takes off Nov. 23, running until Dec. 4. It includes stops in Shanghai, Beijing, Taizhou (Barrie’s sister city in China), and Hong Kong.
The Barrie delegation joins representatives from Mississauga, Markham, Vaughan, Brampton, Oakville, and Clarington in the multi-community China mission to explore opportunities and establish relationships. The trip is being taken in association with the Confederation of the Greater Toronto Chinese Business Association (CGTCBA).
Cost of the 10-day trip is $6,900 per person, and that covers all expenses except personal, Hany told City Scene Barrie. Lehman is paying for the trip from his office budget, while Brassard (chair of the economic development committee), and Hany are covered by economic development’s budget.
Barrie’s participation in the Foreign Direct Investment mission was approved earlier this year by city council. Goals include building and strengthening trade and business relations with Chinese interests. Participation in the mission will provide Barrie’s delegation the opportunity to learn from the experiences of other members of the mission which have visited China before, says Hany.
Local businesses joining the mission are TNR Doors, Squarefoot.ca Inc., Ian S. Malcolm Architects, and Advance Motion & Controls Ltd. A press conference and networking session is planned for Thursday, Oct. 18, 12:15-2 p.m. in the Great Hall, City of Mississauga.
The mission, Brassard told City Scene Barrie, might not specifically mean having a Chinese manufacturer establish a presence in Barrie, but could help economic development in less direct ways.
“A tremendous amount of Chinese capital is being invested in Canada in the form of industrial parks, among other investments. These buildings can be used to house and grow Canadian businesses right here in Barrie and provide employment for our residents.
“They also can be used to form technological partnerships and strategies with the Chinese where Canadian technology is developed here in Barrie and used in China.”
Brassard says that Chinese visitors to Barrie, in meetings with municipal officials, have expressed “confidence in Canadian ingenuity and innovation.”
“They are looking for things that help them with environmental issues like recycling and reclamation, for example, and want to invest and partner in Canadian companies who can help them, not just with that type of technology but others as well.”
Development restrictions in the north part of the GTA could also make Barrie attractive to foreign investment looking to leapfrog north, says Brassard.
“Barrie is poised on two fronts to benefit from that. One, because we now have the land after the recent annexation, and two, because we have the capacity in infrastructure with electricity, water and sewer … the Surface Water Treatment Plant was one of the key reasons we were able to bring IBM to town.”
Brassard also said that having three city officials join the mission is necessary to maximize opportunities to develop relationships and opportunities.
“It’s critical for those Barrie businesses we are with to leverage the political support of having a mayor and city councillor with them, to open the right doors and meet the right people.”