Deal with Chinese in works

A delegation of Terrace officials has returned from China with good news.

Made up of an equal number of Kitselas First Nation and city of Terrace officials, the group of eight returned Nov. 23 from its one-week trip to the port city of Qinhuangdao on the north coast where they were courting foreign investors.

Mayor Pernarowki said details of the business trip, which was partially funded by Chinese state powers, are strictly confidential.

But the mayor and other council members did say the mission was successful in networking with potential investors for lands in the Skeena Industrial Development Park, and a press release is expected out tomorrow from the city with more information.

According to the Terrace half of the delegation's report to council Monday, the group toured about seven manufacturing facilities, and also met with state officials.

Terrace made an investment agreement with the province for the airport lands several years ago, which is an area south of the Northwest Regional Airport that totals 2,000 acres, and leasing or selling this land is part of the city's strategic plan to increase their industrial tax base.

Chinese business interests from Qinhuangdao first approached Terrace staff through the provincial government, and the trip was planned in September, though news of it was not made public until four days before the Nov.16 departure.

Councillor James Cordeiro said the manufacturing facilities they visited were situated within municipal boundaries, which gave the delegation a first hand look at what could happen here in Terrace if a deal is struck that sees a manufacturing outfit created on the city lands.

According to the delegation members, Chinese investors are interested in manufacturing products in B.C. that would then be sold to North American markets, and mayor Pernarowski said this would be related to manufacturing.

“There's a certain prestige motivation I think,” said councillor James Cordeiro of the reason why Chinese companies are interested in Canadian operations.

“I think the desire to have that sort of national prestige that the United States or Japan or Germany have with their corporate power is certainly motivation to leave their country and set up shop in other places.”

“The air was as clean as Vancouver,” said Cordeiro, noting the host city had apparently figured out how to create a manufacturing base without polluting the community.

Pernarowski said that resource-based products using aluminum and other resources from the area is a possibility and also log shipping that would take the whole tree “from root to tip”, thus solving some of the issues that local mills currently have with not being able to keep up with processing their waste wood.

However, none of the Terrace delegation would reveal exactly which manufacturing outfit is most interested.

Pernarowski also said this could mean future factory jobs for Terrace residents, though he reassured council that these would be skilled jobs and not of the “assembly line” kind.

“I left feeling we were really good friends,” said councillor Lynne Christiansen. “We were treated like royalty.”

As gifts, the delegation brought smoked salmon from a Thornhill salmon shop, River Wild Salmon, that closed down this summer because of the small Sockeye run, as well as First Nations paintings and a carved spoon.

The airport lands are situated on Kitselas First Nation territory, and the city has a profit-sharing agreement with them.

Terrace was represented by mayor Dave Pernarowski, councillors Lynne Christiansen, James Cordeiro and city corporate lands manager Herb Dusdal.

Kitselas chief councillor Joe Bevan, councillors Wilfred Bennett and Judy Gerow and Kitselas chief executive officer Therese Hagen made up the Kitselas portion of the delegation.

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