Vaughan + China: investment, partnership, opportunity

Three-part series chronicles recent China business mission

The City of Vaughan joined the Province of Ontario on a successful business mission to China this month to increase trade opportunities for businesses in Vaughan, create strategic partnerships with Chinese companies and establish Vaughan as a preferred location for Chinese investments. This is the first article in a three-part series that will share important details about the China business mission:

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  • Part one: success for Vaughan — creating lasting, long-term partnerships that will increase our competitive advantage and support our local businesses and economy
  • Part two: lessons learned — understanding how cities in China are transforming under-utilized space into liveable, walkable and enjoyable cultural hubs complete with complex transportation systems
  • Part three: valuable experiences — appreciating Chinese history, culture, development and innovation and deepening our friendship agreements

The 14-day business mission was led by the City of Vaughan and the Province of Ontario, included tours of head offices, government bureaus, cultural and historical museums and education institutions showcasing the diverse and rapidly expanding domestic market in China. Ward 4 Councillor Sandra Yeung Racco and Elaine Yim Spencer, City of Vaughan economic development officer, attended the mission and came back to Vaughan better for the experience and with key lessons learned.

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This China mission was a great success with tangible results for the City of Vaughan to support Vaughan businesses entering into Chinese partnerships. The total project value from these joint Vaughan/China partnerships is estimated to be about $116.5 million CAD generated over the next five years. More than 820 jobs in Ontario are expected to be created from these joint ventures.

Most importantly, the City of Vaughan was able to strengthen relationships with businesses and government organizations to gather in-market intelligence and business matchmaking for bilateral trade through the Vaughan International Commercialization Centre (VICC).

Here are the four companies that the City of Vaughan was able to endorse to their Chinese partners for successful signings.

  1. Door Components Canada and New Concept Quality Doors – New Concept Quality Doors Group, including Door Components Canada and New Concept Quality Doors Ltd., is one of the largest manufacturers and distributors of residential entry door components and systems in Ontario and in Canada. They have three plants in Ontario, employing more than 100 people with annual revenue of $20 million CAD.
  2. York Entrepreneurship Development Institute (YEDI) – VBEC (Vaughan Business Enterprise Centre) partnered with YEDI to deliver an accelerator program for not-for-profit agencies in York Region. To date, the VBEC-YEDI collaboration has accelerated almost 30 not-for-profit organizations in two cohorts. A third cohort is underway, with another three planned for 2016 and 2017.
  1. Hot Yoga Wellness – Hot Yoga Wellness International entered into an agreement with the Chinese Health Qigong Association in Beijing to provide yoga qigong training including teacher training during the trade mission. The estimated scope of the project is to provide qigong yoga training across all of China by training five people from each province every year (four sessions/year; around 500  teachers not including students per year). The potential value of this agreement is approximately $1.5 million CAD over the next five years.
  1. Ionada Inc.and Jiangsu Yadong International Investment Co. Ltd., announced a $10-million joint venture to manufacture and market marine exhaust gas cleaning systems in China and internationally. The project will create up to 20 high-tech research jobs in Ontario.

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This mission was also a key opportunity to promote Vaughan’s newest economic development initiative, the Vaughan International Commercialization Centre (VICC). The VICC is a program that supports Vaughan-based businesses and international enterprises when it comes to pursuing business expansion through market development or diversification. The VICC provides businesses with the tools they need to expand and gain entry into new markets internationally and locally.

The mission resulted in several companies wanting to export to Vaughan and others wanting soft-landing spots and matchmaking opportunities with local companies. During a meeting with the Innovation and Technology Commission (ITC) at the Government of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region, the Commission expressed its excitement about the VICC and how we can start collaborating to promote international partnerships and trade.

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During the China business mission, Councillor Racco and Elaine had the opportunity to meet with Linda and Jessie Wong, owners of a unique organization called the Yihai Group. The organization — which was founded in 1989 and has assets totaling more than 20-billion yuan ($4 billion CAD) — runs a gated residential community in Beijing housing 40,000 residents and employing more than 2,000 staff. The community was created based on a theory of “harmonious real-estate development” that supports social responsibility, education and sustainable development.

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Yihai Group’s unique competitive advantage is that it promotes lifelong education for all. The organization owns 12 educational institutions, including kindergarten schools, middle schools, an international school that teaches the British Columbia educational curriculum and a unique Elderly College for seniors who want to learn new skills. Their eldest student is 102 years old!

Recognizing the innovation behind Yihai Group, Councillor Racco signed a Letter of Intent with the organization to exchange educational resources, teach them more about the Ontario curriculum and partner with Vaughan schools for teacher and student exchanges.

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Councillor Racco and Elaine also had an interesting working session with a company called Eontime, a professional real-estate development and management group in Beijing affiliated with Zhongfa Group Co. The company — which was established in 1997 and has assets totaling $20 billion CAD — is focused in three primary industries: finance, healthcare and cultural tourism.

Eontime takes an interesting approach to development, advocating for what it calls “the harmonious coexistence of buildings, people and the environment.” Eontime’s unique competitive advantage is that it produces modern humanistic products, with comfort and care infused into every detail.

It was during their meeting that Eontime expressed interest in developing a large indoor mall-hotel-entertainment centre complex. Councillor Racco and Elaine took the opportunity to present a number of development spaces in Vaughan that Eontime could invest in, sparking interest in commercial real-estate opportunities in the Vaughan Metropolitan Centre (VMC) and the Vaughan Enterprise Zone (VEZ). Councillor Racco and the City of Vaughan will continue to work on a Letter of Intent with Eontime, which is largely interested in purchasing 35 acres of land in Vaughan to develop a multi-faceted entertainment complex complete with an indoor water park, movie theatre and shopping centre.

Economic Development will continue to work with Alex Etkin, Commercial Officer (Special Projects)

from the Ontario International-Beijing Trade and Investment Office to discuss further land options for future development in the City of Vaughan.

These meetings listed are just a few of the many discussions that took place in Hong Kong and China during the mission with potential investors to build in the City of Vaughan.  This mission opened the doors to many opportunities for Foreign Direct Investment.

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Premier Kathleen Wynne concluded her second mission to China in Beijing with 38 new agreements valued at $750 million signed by delegates in Beijing. This brings the estimated total value of agreements from the mission to $2.5 billion. The agreements are expected to create 1,700 jobs in Ontario.

Stay tuned for the next instalment which will look at how cities in China are transforming under-utilized space into liveable, walkable and enjoyable cultural hubs complete with complex transportation systems for all ages to enjoy.

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