Chinese businesses contribute to economy of Chicagoland of US

By Zhang Niansheng from People’s Daily

A total of about 80 Chinese companies have invested in Chicago, the third-most populous city in the US. Their active business there has not only created more job positions for local residents, but also offered local community a glimpse into the potential of “Chinese elements”.

The Chicago branch of the Bank of China is one witness. Starting its business in the city in March, 2013, the office has expanded its product portfolio from the previous trade and loans to current big greenfield investment, project financing and industrial M & A.

Its business partners cover both big corporations as well as medium- and small-sized enterprises. With its projects encompassing dozens of states in central and western part of the US, the bank offered support to growth and prosperity of both China-funded businesses and local US companies.

Michael T. Flanagan, a lanky US young man, has worked in the branch for three-plus years. He told the People’s Daily that as a witness of the firm’s non-stop growth, he also improved his capabilities and learned Chinese there. Flanagan also hosted a company banquet last year in Chinese.

Flanagan is only one of dozens of US employees working in the subsidiary. Branch manager Kefei Xu said that of the employees, only three were sent by Chinese headquarters, while others were hired in local.

Wanda Group, one of China’s largest commercial property company, began to construct a 95-story skyscraper on East Wacker Drive near Lake Michigan last September. By the time it’s completed, the tower will be the third tallest building in the city.

According to the schedule, the tower will house five-star hotel, condos, clubs and roof gardens. The project will cost Wanda over 1 billion dollars.

Though the project is big, the company only sent two Chinese employees for accounting process, implementation and partner coordination. After the building is put into use, it is estimated to bring 4,500 positions to local citizens.

Andrew Spinelli, official with World Business Chicago, told the People’s Daily that this successful investment deal was frequently cited by Rahm Emanuel, mayor of the city. The mayor believed that Wanda’s investment also showed its confidence in the city’s prospect, while luring more Chinese corporations to invest and establish business in the city.

Qingdao-based CRRC Sifang Co Ltd, a high-speed train manufacturer, is another big Chinese investor in the city.

The manufacturer broke ground in Chicago last month at a $100 million plant that will build railcars for the city’s transit authority. The plant, which is expected to cover 275 mu (about 0.18 square kilometers), will bring China a record-high export order to developed world.

Upon the completion of the plant, over 60 percent of the components will be made by US suppliers, said Liu Chengyong, general manager of CRRC’s American branch.

The firm clinched the $1.3 billion contract offered by the Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) in March, 2016 to supply 846 new 7000-series railcars to replace approximately half of the agency’s fleet.

The establishment of the plant in Chicago is significant, Spinelli said, explaining that it means Chinese companies have engaged in the US’ infrastructure upgrade process.

Such cooperation also serves the ambitious infrastructure repair and rebuilding plan of the Trump administration, he added.

According to initial plan, the Trump administration plans to invest 1 trillion dollars in next 10 years to upgrade the country’s infrastructure facilities, which indicates that Public-private partnerships (PPPs) financing model will be applied.

These investments in the city have not only created returns and economic benefits, but also offered US politicians like Emanuel an insight into China’s potential. Rightly because of these potential, Emanuel has been resolute in making Chicago the city “most friendly towards China”.

So far, the city has intensified its cooperation with Beijing, Shanghai, Tianjin, Qingdao, Hangzhou, Wuhan, Chengdu and Shengyang, and their growing cooperation projects are expected to generate local community more job positions.