We have just now concluded our last, and I would argue our most successful day of the entire mission. This should not come as a surprise given the groundwork that was previously established with our sister city of Nanjing along with the warm relationships that have been built since 1997.
Our day began with another roundtable exchange this time hosted by Mr. Hua Chen, Deputy Director of Foreign Affairs. Mr. Chen warmly welcomed our delegation and then showed us a spectacular video of Nanjing`s 12th 5 year plan. Their progress and world class vision of how a city can work and grow in harmony with their heritage was nothing short of stunning.
Our Mayor offered his enthusiastic response and again invited Nanjing to join us for the 2013 World Figure Skating Championships in London. John Winston, get the air mattresses readyJ.
After the Mayor, Peter White of the LEDC gave their delegation a thorough overview of London`s economic advantages followed by Lily Wang representing the Chamber`s own Asian Business Opportunities Committee (ABOC).
Lily turned the mic over to Andrea Feddema of Ernst & Young and then to Barry Cleaver of Siskinds. Both seemed to garner the attention of the Nanjing delegates and both have developed several relationships here that could lead to additional business for their respective firms.
Over 30 of their local business leaders and industry reps took part in the exchange.
I indicated to the Nanjing group that although we (LCC) were late coming to the party, we will be quick to respond to the business opportunities that now exist. Immediately after the roundtable, Chairman Chen abruptly called the meeting to an end so we could keep on schedule for the signing of the MOU to follow. Sound like someone you know?
After a cordial exchange between Nanjing`s Deputy Mayor and Mayor Fontana, I again had the extraordinary honour to sign, along with Vice Chair Liu Yongwu of the CCPIT of Nanjing and the Nanjing Chamber of International Commerce, our final MOU of the mission.
The focus of this MOU is to allow our two great communities to capitalize on existing economic opportunities and to encourage the development and promotion of economic cooperation and communication between the business community in Nanjing and in London Canada.
Before we make our way home I just want to say how very proud I am of the entire London Team and honoured I was to be a part of this extraordinary mission.
Lily Wang of ScienceTech and our very own Vice-Chair of our ABOC committee has been an absolutely invaluable asset to our group as she carved her way through numerous officials and authorities just to ensure our comfort and safety. Not only did she interpret for every one of our delegates, she is in her own right a London Ambassador Extraordinaire. Lily you are indeed priceless.
To Andrea and Barry, thank you both for your professionalism, your decorum under pressure, your unwavering support of the mission and our city and most of all for your friendship and camaraderie. You represented London`s business community with flying colours. You both rocked!
To Peter White of the LEDC, your vast knowledge of London`s Economic advantages, your broader knowledge of world economic conditions, and your respectful, polished approach in presenting our case were invaluable. You were, as always, our go-to encyclopedia of information when it came to responding to questions our friends from China had for us. We are lucky to have Peter White in London. You are the rock.
To Grant Hopcroft, you are the eyes and ears of diplomacy. You are the tireless support system for a machine that does not always function at its best, yet, you find a way to keep us organized and right on track for all of the critical parts of our agendas. You are the calming influence that all of us needed whenever a curve ball (and there were many) came our way. It`s little wonder you were selected as the City`s Director of Intergovernmental Affairs. Thanks coach.
To Marian Hughes. Where were you when I was looking for Canada`s best Administrative Assistant. Tireless doesn`t begin to describe your efforts and the quality of work you put out is simply incomparable. If the City of London was ever hit by a crippling disaster, I would look to you to organize our way back to good health. “Sista“…..you`re the best I have ever worked with. Thanks
And finally to Mayor Joe, let me just say to those who doubt your leadership skills – you would be very, very wrong! To those who would say you can`t think on your feet – oh so wrong again! To those who suggest you lack the finesse or culture for the job – okay they may have something on the finesse thing but make no mistake – it is this very quality, this infectious enthusiasm that has charmed every single government official, business leader, party rep and dignitary we have come in contact with since we started the mission. And the incredible thing is that because of our gruelling schedule, you do this often, with little or no sleep. Joe, you have made your mark on China and my guess is that it`s an indelible mark. I am proud of what you have accomplished in China on behalf of London. Well done!
So, what will come of all this? Fair question. In my view we have opened new doors and behind those doors there are easily a million new opportunities. Will we be able to capitalize on all of them? Of course not. Will we get at least some new business from all of this. We already have and there are great prospects that will most assuredly fall into place in the very near future.
For London, the answer is obvious. I was told by at least four of our hosts that they will be welcoming several more Canadian Mayors and their business delegations in the next two weeks alone. And they have hosted numerous Canadian Mayors in the past year. The point, quite simply is (and you`ll forgive my slang), we can`t not do this.
The world marketplace demands that cities like London meet their new business partners while the opportunities still exist. It will do little to help London`s economy after all of our competitors have beat us to the punch. I am glad we went. I am delighted with the business that was developed while we were here, I am honoured to have been a part of team London, and I am totally optimistic that this mission and those that may follow will bear the sweetest kind of fruit for London and our friends in China.