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Youngstown mayor looks to China

YOUNGSTOWN — Mayor Jamael Tito Brown said he hopes his recent visit to China will help city businesses expand in that country.

“A lot of the global market looks at the coastal cities and not the Midwest,” he said. “We want them to have the Midwest in their hearts and minds when they consider doing business in the United States.”

Brown left for China Nov. 16 and returned Nov. 22, with the United States Heartland China Association sponsoring the trip and paying his expenses.

“It’s important for us to build relationships between China and the United States,” Brown said.

Brown was part of a delegation of four Midwest city mayors on the trip.

Joining him were Richard H. Carr, mayor of Maumee; James Brainard, mayor of Carmel, Ind.; and Paul TenHaken, mayor of Sioux Falls, S.D.

Former Missouri Gov. Bob Holden, chairman and CEO of the association, joined the delegation and served as its leader, Brown said.

Brown said he was selected because of his involvement with the United States Conference of Mayors and Ohio Mayors Alliance.

“It was a quite an experience,” Brown said. “I found it to be a great opportunity for Youngstown to work globally. They know abut Cleveland, Columbus and Cincinnati in China, but they didn’t know about Youngstown.”

Brown said he brought information about the Youngstown Business Incubator, Youngstown State University and businesses in the city.

“I talked to them about the demographics of the city and our proximity to other parts of the country,” he said.

The delegation met with Chinese officials, as well as with members of the U.S. embassy in China and the U.S. Department of Commerce, Brown said.

“Our main focus was to learn their culture and share information about our businesses,” he said.

The United States Heartland China Association works to build stronger ties between 20 states located between the Great Lakes and the Gulf of Mexico and China. Its mission is to develop better, mutually beneficial relationships between China and this country’s heartland region by, among other things, promoting trade and cultural cooperation, according to its website.

dskolnick@tribtoday.com