Portland businessman Jin Lan runs a business consultancy called Octaxias based in Portland and with an office in Beijing. He has long promoted the sister-state relationship between Oregon and China’s Fujian Province. He says that relationship has been hampered by a difficult process for Chinese visitors to get travel visas, preventing Oregon from attracting a significant and growing source of tourism money. But he’s seen “great improvements” over the past few years. The next step is to market the state to Chinese travelers who might not be able to find Oregon on a world map. “Oregon has a low exposure in China,” says Lan “We need to increase our exposure.”
Lan, state Rep. Dennis Richardson (R-Central Point) and a coalition of Southern Oregon business leaders have organized an event in June in Medford featuring the Chinese Consul General from San Francisco. A similar event last year resulted in a $2 million helicopter pilot training contract in China for Ashland Air Rescue Systems. Event organizer David Wick says the long-term goal is to “put Southern Oregon on the map” for Chinese travelers.
The Medford event will be followed in September by a much larger one. A delegation of business and government leaders is planning to travel from Oregon to China Sept. 8-11 for the China International Fair for Investment and Trade, billed as “the world's largest international investment promotion event.” The EB-5 program is certain to be a major topic of discussion at that mammoth conference — and Oregon can expect fierce competition to attract the Chinese money that so many states are coveting.