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Wichita City Council OKs trade center contract for aviation push in China

  • The Wichita Eagle
  • Published Tuesday, Feb. 11, 2014, at 6:31 p.m.
  • Updated Tuesday, Feb. 11, 2014, at 6:31 p.m.

Wichita’s efforts to sell aviation and other goods and services in China got a shot in the arm Tuesday from the City Council.

Council members signed off on a 2014 economic development services agreement with the Kansas World Trade Center for $50,000. Under the contract, the center will manage the Global Air Capital-China program, including oversight of the city’s aviation office in Beijing and a marketing effort in China on the city’s behalf.

Wichita Mayor Carl Brewer and trade center president Karyn Page opened the office last year. It is intended to connect Wichita and China businesses for aviation parts, maintenance and other products and services.

“So far, we’ve gotten the office up and established our presence in Beijing,” Brewer said. “A lot of the major cities there are similar to Wichita, and they want us to have a presence there. We are looked upon as the aviation experts. If you want to talk about or buy airplanes, we are the ones you need to talk to.”

A second visit to China last year by the mayor – the U.S.-China Eco-Cities Mayoral Exchange in December – yielded interest from Chinese investors in Wichita’s commercial and public real estate projects. Sometime this year, two groups of potential investors are expected in Wichita to examine potential opportunities.

The idea to open an office in Beijing came after a visit to China by Brewer, Page and others in 2012. During the 12-day trip, the delegation met with key government and business officials in six Chinese cities to gauge the market for Wichita-produced aviation goods and expertise.

The Chinese are opening up their air space in 2015 and are searching for all levels of aviation equipment and skill, from airplanes to pilot training to airport design and construction.

Reach Bill Wilson at 316-268-6290 or bwilson@wichitaeagle.com. Follow him on Twitter: @bwilsoneagle.

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