A delegation of Chinese business owners and government representatives visited the city on Monday morning seeking possible investment opportunities within city limits.
“We want to know what kind of companies are best invested here,” asked Zong Muda (pictured in center), vice-general director of the Department of Commerce of Fujian Province, an affluent costal city in southeastern China. “What kind of industries do you encourage most?” asked Muda.
Jeffery Jones, city’s mayor, invited the 14-person delegation into the city council chamber, where city officials held a discussion on possible investment opportunities between the city and businesses in the Chinese city.
Ruben Gomez, the city’s economic development director, and Kate Muldoon, regional director of the William Paterson Small Business Development Director, were in attendance at the mayor’s behest.
“We’re good for anybody that wants to be within 100 miles of the city [New York City] in terms of product distribution,” responded Gomez to Muda’s question. “We’re looking at companies that are in the food sector, food manufacturing and distribution.”
“We have about 30 mill buildings that exist in our city,” said the mayor addressing the delegation through an interpreter.
The Chinese wasted no time in getting to the meat of the discussion.
“We want to develop a center here where you can store merchandise that will be imported from China, electronics and stuff, so they want to know how much it will cost,” said Muda, through a translator.
The delegation cited a massive $200 million investment a Fujian company made in Ohio earlier in the year to underscore the seriousness of their discussions with the city.
“We do have plenty of warehouse space,” said Gomez, while explaining the price per square feet ranges from $3 per square feet to $10. Muda wanted to know how much he would have to pay in taxes.
Gomez explained that the taxes are often negotiated with the landlord, but usually it is no more than $1.75 per square feet – Gomez stated that the tax per square feet can be as low as $0.80 for some mill buildings.
Jones played up the city’s proximity to ports, highways, and rails. Jones, who has been pushing for foreign direct investment since taking office, said this delegation was much more eager to invest in the city than previous contingents.
Indeed, seeking out prices and involving high ranking government officials, appear to suggest this delegation is much more serious. At one point during the discussions Muda asked Gomez to send a list of investment opportunities available in the city so that he can connect relevant Fujian companies with the city.
The delegation was particularly interested in warehousing, hydro energy production, and a hotel construction.
“They’re going to find the corresponding industries and companies in China so that they can make investments,” said the translator interpreting Muda’s words.
The delegation presented the mayor with a traditional comb – Chinese custom requires when visiting another to bring presents. Jones was also given an invitation to attend an exhibition to be held in China in September. The mayor said, he will speak to the Greater Paterson Chamber of Commerce to see whether any local businesses would be interested in expanding to China. And possibly, arrange a trip.
“These guys actually said what they wanted,” said Jones after the discussions.
“It was interesting. From all the ones we met in the past, this one asked how soon,” said the mayor. “They were really focused.”