Chester County is more than 7,000 miles away from China. But county officials and business leaders have been working to bridge that distance since their first trade trip there in 2014.
On Tuesday, a nine-person delegation ships out visit Beijing, Xi’an, Chongqing, Shanghai and Yangzhou.
So far, visits to and from Chester County have created some “serendipitous” business opportunities, according to Chester County Commissioner Terence Farrell.
“Levante brewing company [from West Chester] has been introduced to a distributor in X’ian,” a city in Central China, and is now exploring a licensing deal, said Farrell.
Soon, there will be a mushroom farm near Shanghai, based on one in Kennett Square, with the help of Pietro Mushrooms owner Chris Alonzo.
When Chinese investors come to the United States, Chester County has some stiff competition for their attention, according to Mike Grigalonis, with the Chester County Economic Development Council.
“It’s interesting because their destinations are like Los Angeles, and then they go to Chicago, and then they go to New York. And then, they come to Chester county,” he said, pausing a beat. “It’s happened like three or four times.”
As Pennsylvania’s wealthiest county per capita, Grigalonis said Chester is competitive amongst those larger, urban, financial hubs. Big, local companies QVC, which partnered with Chinese National Radio in 2012 to expand its sales empire, already have ties to the Asian economic powerhouse.
Frontage Laboratories, a company based in Eagleville, received $50.25 million from Hangzhou Tigermed Consulting Company in 2014, although neither of those deals were related to the trade trips.
And while the the business deals arising from county delegate visits seem to be largely consultation, not investment, officials hope someday that could change.
“It hasn’t been a hotbed, it’s not been like California or New York, that are more obvious for Chinese investment,” said Grigalonis. “So that’s one of the things we’re trying to do, is raise the profile for Chester County.”