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City of Peoria Press Release

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Mayor to Attend Economic Forum in China

International Gathering Will Spotlight Sustainable Development


PEORIA, Ariz. (Oct. 5, 2009) – Mayor Bob Barrett heads to China next week to take part in an international economic forum on sustainable development and new types of industrialization.

Organizers of the inaugural Caofeidian Forum invited Barrett and are paying for the mayor and his wife to attend the Oct. 15-17 event in Tangshan, a city of 7.2 million people in northeastern China. The Barretts will depart Oct. 13 and return Oct. 19.

“I hope this trip will give me an opportunity to sell Peoria, the Valley and Arizona to both the Chinese and to the others attending the forum,” Barrett says. “The key message I hope to convey is that Peoria and Arizona are on the cutting edge of the renewable-energy revolution, and that we offer companies looking to expand a great location with good land values, transit corridors and an educated work force.”

Other invitees include Chinese and international political leaders, representatives from U.N.-related organizations, officials of the World Bank and the Asian Development Bank, scholars and representatives of Forbes 500 enterprises. Barrett is one of nine U.S. mayors attending, along with Boyd Dunn of Chandler.

Susan J. Daluddung, Peoria’s deputy city manager for development and community services, concurs that this is a unique opportunity for the city to put a positive emphasis on renewable and solar-energy businesses as a means for improving the local economy. “We have plenty of sunshine, new state incentives for renewable industries and vacant manufacturing space waiting to be filled," she says.
“The more opportunity we have to speak to worldwide efforts toward renewable industrial strategies,” Daluddung adds, “the better off our city will become.”

The mayor says he hopes to get beyond buzz words and learn more about where these emerging markets are heading. While he would like to attract related businesses to Peoria, he asks, “What, specifically, are we talking about?” Economic development is a two-way street, and Barrett wants investment from businesses that will bring value to Peoria.

“What I would really like to get would be the headquarters and research-and-development aspects of companies involved in solar and other renewables,” he says. “Putting up a solar "farm" over a vast number of acres does not create the number of jobs, nor the salaries, that would be of most benefit. Those would come from having the scientists working in Peoria.”

“I hope to learn just what we need to do as a city, region and state to attract and hold their attention – and, hopefully, lure them to Arizona,” Barrett says.

The forum will take place in a city long synonymous with industrialization. Tangshan’s history boasts China’s first mechanized coal mine, first standard-gauge railway track, first steam locomotive, first barrel of machine-made cement, first set of sanitary ceramics and first stock certificate. Completely rebuilt since a devastating 1976 earthquake, the area has been designated a demonstration zone and model for sustainable development by Chinese President Hu Jintao.

The Caofeidian Forum is cosponsored by the city of Tangshan, Hebei Province and three Chinese government agencies.