Cariboo leaders head to China to promote local business opportunities

CRD Chair Al Richmond and Williams Lake Mayor are off to China to meet with investors and promote the area

A delegation with representatives from the Cariboo will be in China May 13 to 24 promoting the region’s exports and opportunities.

“We are going to be promoting our lumber, our plywood, OSB, log home building, tourism and educational opportunities at UNBC and TRU — those are the main things we will be focusing on,” Cariboo Regional District Chair Al Richmond told the Tribune Thursday. “We are opening the door to business, but we are not in the business of negotiations, that will be up to the businesses to do that.”

The CRD has been working with an association of Chinese business investors in Vancouver to organize the trip with support from the Consulate-General.

Joining Richmond on the trip are Mayor Walt Cobb and CAO Milo MacDonald, 100 Mile House Mayor Mitch Campsall, Wells Mayor Robin Sharpe, Port Moody Mayor Mike Clay and Greg Moore who is Port Coquitlam Mayor and Metro Vancouver Regional District Chair.

There are also several support staff from the municipalities going as well as business representatives including Brad Johnson of Sitka Log Homes, Ken Harper from Trinity Post and Panel, Tom Hoffman from Tolko Industries, as well as Meridian RV from 100 Mile House and from the Lower Mainland, Sunwell Farm Technology out of Port Coquitlam and Brew Street Craft and Kitchen and Bold Properties of Port Moody.

“We have been meeting with the Consulate-General in Vancouver and we had the two delegations come through last year so we have been working on a trip to China,” Richmond said.

The delegation will have meetings in Guangdong province in the cities of Guangzhou, Shenzhen and Shanwei, in Anhui province in the city of Suzhou, and the cities of Zhengzhou and Dengfend in Henan province.

“We will be in Guangzhou with the Canadian Consulate-General and other staff from the Ministry of International Trade on May 16 and a number of business people are coming to meet with our lumber delegation,” Richmond said.

The newly formed Canada China City and Town Friendship Association will be accompanying the delegation to provide guidance and translation services and have provided a lot of support throughout the development of the trip, he added.

Mayor Walt Cobb said when the delegation visits Suzhou it will be the first time a Canadian delegation has ever been there.

“It will be an exciting opportunity to pursue many of the development opportunities that have been identified by our economic development program over the last several years,” MacDonald said. “There are some fairly well-capitalized investment people in China who are actively, and sort of spiritually, attached to this area and interested in participating in further development.”

Cobb said the trip will cost about $4,400 total for his and MacDonald’s flight and some meals.

“Our accommodation is being covered and we will be attending several banquets which we won’t have to pay for.”

Richmond said the delegation will promote the proposed flight school for TRU Williams Lake and explore high school exchange possibilities while they are there.