March 17, 2011

Mayor Richard M. Daley Announces New "Chicago-China Friendship Initiative" Campaign To Bring More Chinese Investment To Chicago Region

Theme is “Chicago: The Heart of America”; Aimed at Making Chicago Most “China-Friendly” City in the United States
Mayor's Press Office    312.744.3334

Mayor Daley today announced the "Chicago-China Friendship Initiative" campaign with a theme of "Chicago: The Heart of America." The goal of this campaign is to raise the City’s profile as a center of international commerce and establish Chicago as the most "China-Friendly" city in the United States.

Mayor Daley will launch the initiative by traveling to China from March 18-30 to meet with Chinese government and business leaders in Beijing, Tianjin, Hangzhou, Chongqing and Hong Kong. He will be accompanied by a delegation of Chicago civic and business leaders.

"We already have a very strong relationship with China, but the economic future of Chicago depends greatly on our success in seeking opportunities in China and around the globe," Daley said at a news conference held at the offices of SOM, 224 S. Michigan Av. SOM is a Chicago architectural, engineering and design firm that has worked on more than 150 projects in more than 30 Chinese cities.

"We need to build on our previous successes and on President Hu Jintao’s recent visit here to further elevate Chicago’s image in China as both an ideal location for business and a matchless destination for leisure travelers," he said.

Daley said the great potential of a rising Chinese economy has generated considerable interest and activity by U.S. states and municipalities competing with Chicago.

"There has never been a better time to expand the City’s connections with China. No other American city is so committed to a long-term strategy of friendship and cooperation with China as Chicago," he said.

The campaign will include a combination of multi-media advertising and personal contact that builds on Chicago’s already strong ties with China.

Daley said the symbol of the heart was chosen for the campaign for several reasons: the city’s central geographical location in the United States; its historic and continuing role as the business, financial, transportation and cultural center of the Midwest; its welcoming attitude toward business; its friendly people and collaborative spirit.

Daley will take with him two videos originally produced as part of the 2016 Olympics and Paralympics initiative and now re-packaged for "Chicago: The Heart of America." He will also take a 30-second television ad that will be used as part of the campaign and which highlights the aspects of Chicago that would have the most impact in China, including a thriving business community, a number of the world’s finest business schools and already strong cultural ties to China.

"It’s another one of the ways in which the legacy and hard work of our 2016 efforts continue to benefit the residents of Chicago," Daley said.

The campaign will be supported by a permanent committee composed of Chicago business and civic leaders who will analyze the Chicago business climate and make recommendations on ways to expand the reach of the campaign in China.

Chicago business leaders will make another trip to China in June coordinated by the Chicago-China Economic Development Center, the City’s economic development office in Shanghai. In September, the CCEDC will sponsor a CEO Roundtable in Chicago to report on its progress.

"Chicago: The Heart of America" will market Chicago as America’s most diverse metropolitan economy.

  • It is the business services capital of the Midwest
  • It is the #2 financial center in the United States
  • It is a manufacturing leader in many fields
  • It is a leader in the area of applied technologies
  • It is the United States’ top business travel destination and #1 in the U.S. for air travel, rail freight, intermodal, trucking and distribution.

The campaign will stress that, as a result of these characteristics, there are a variety of opportunities for foreign investors, but that special areas of emphasis for China include:

  • Headquarters operations
  • Renewable energy, particularly wind power operations
  • Office and distribution centers
  • Finance and transportation
  • Food sector operations
  • Telecommunications/Information Technology
  • Assembly/manufacturing

And there are a number of potential sites in Chicago that are available for immediate development, such as the former Michael Reese Hospital property and the former U.S. Steel South Works property.

In addition, "Chicago: The Heart of America" will point out that Chicago offers the best access to the U.S. marketplace, a high quality workforce, top tier international business services and a large regional market. The campaign will stress that costs across-the-board in Chicago are less than in U.S. coastal competitors.

The initiative’s launch follows by two months the visit to Chicago of Hu Jintao, President of the People’s Republic of China.

"One of the things that has inspired this campaign is the vision of President Hu Jintao and President Barack Obama to forge new partnerships in China. Working together we can achieve much," Daley said.

"Just as the heart keeps the body alive, "Chicago: the Heart of America" and its global partners can generate the kind of economic activity that ensures we are attracting business and tourism to create the jobs of the future and keep our economy healthy," the Mayor said.

Daley said he believed President Hu visited Chicago – his only American stop other than Washington, D.C. -- because of its pro-business outlook and its promising economic future.

In recent years, Chicago has taken many steps to develop its economic and cultural relationships with China. Among the highlights: 

  • Chicago has enjoyed Sister City relationships with Shanghai and Shenyang for more than 25 years, hosting each other’s visitors, exchanging art and music and sharing business ideas, technology and medical expertise. The relationship has fostered important "people-to-people" and cultural exchanges that are vital to developing a closer partnership between the residents of the cities.
  • Last year, the City took part in the 2010 World Expo in Shanghai, highlighting Chicago’s music, art, food and sports for millions of visitors.
  • In 2007, Daley hosted the Sino-U.S. Mayor’s Summit, which brought together mayors and city officials from all over the United States and the People’s Republic of China.
  • Daley established World Business Chicago (WBC) and the Chicago-China Economic Development Center (CCEDC) to assist in bringing Chinese investment to the City. The CCEDC has an office in Shanghai, and is Chicago’s sole representative outside the U.S., illustrating the centrality of mainland China to Chicago’s outreach efforts.
  • China is the largest trading partner with the Chicago Customs District. In 2010 the district had $36.6 billion in imports and $4.0 billion in exports.
  • There are nearly 300 Chicago-based companies in China, including Motorola, Wrigley and Boeing. Motorola was the first American company to have a presence in China.
  • There are almost 7,000 Chinese students enrolled in institutions of higher education in Illinois – more than from any other foreign country.
  • Chicago is now home to two Confucius Institutes, which are partnerships with the National Office of Teaching Chinese as a Foreign Language aimed at promoting Chinese language and culture. One is located at Walter Payton College Prep High School and the other at the University of Chicago.
  • The Chinese Language Program in the Chicago Public Schools is the largest of its kind in the United States.

Recent Chinese investments in the Chicago region include: 

  • Goldwind, one of the top five global wind power firms, located its U.S. headquarters in downtown Chicago in 2010, and is expected to settle into permanent space soon. U.S.-basedexpansion is a company goal.
  • Huwaei Telecom established a still-growing Chicago-area office in 2008.
  • Another Chinese telecom company will expand its local presence and open a permanent office in Chicago this year.
  • A Chinese metals company will establish a Chicago-area headquarters to accompany an announced Midwest plant.
  • A Chinese financial institution is in the process of seeking approval to add a Chicago branch.
  • Cathay Pacific, an air carrier, will inaugurate nonstop Hong Kong-Chicago flights this year.
  • Wanxiang America opened a solar panel assembly plant in Rockford, Illinois, last year, in addition to its long-established Elgin headquarters and Chicago operations.

The "Chicago-China Friendship Campaign" is being sponsored by World Business Chicago in collaboration with the Chicago Chamber of Commerce, the Chicago Council on Global Affairs, The Chicago Convention and Tourism Bureau and the Chicago China Economic Development Center.

The Mayor thanked Downtown Partners Chicago, Edelman and Jasculca-Terman Associates, all of whom provided pro bono services to develop marketing and communications elements of the campaign.

The five cities Daley will visit in China are:


  • The University of Chicago opened a new center in Beijing in 2010, supporting collaborations between scholars and students from China and Chicago, across academic disciplines.
  • In 2010, Chicago-based Northern Trust celebrated the opening of its first China branch, in Beijing.
  • In 2010, the Chicago office of Skidmore, Owings & Merrill opened the China World Trade Center Tower, Beijing's tallest building.
  • In 2011, Chicago-based Groupon started service in Beijing and Shanghai.
  • On March 7, 2011, Air China placed orders for five 747-8 passenger jets from Chicago-based Boeing.


  •  Hong Kong’s economy staged a full recovery in 2010 to better than pre-recession levels. For 2010 as a whole, the GDP grew by 6.8 percent in real terms (to $ 224.1 billion USD), after a 2.7 percent contraction in 2009.
  • A total of 36 million visitors, or more than five times the size of the Chicago area’s local population, came to Hong Kong in 2010, representing a 22 percent increase from 2009. In 2010, mainland arrivals reached 22.7 million, up 26 percent from 2009.
  • The four pillar economic sectors of Hong Kong are: trading and logistics, tourism, financial services and professional services and other producer services. Industries prime for further development are: cultural and creative, medical services, education services, innovation and technology, testing and certification services and environmental industries. These six industries together accounted for 8 percent of Hong Kong’s GDP in terms of value-added in 2009.


  • Selected to spearhead China's development of tertiary industries –notably logistics, shipping and financial services because of its location with the only deepwater port to the north, and its location on the estuary of the Haihe River on Bohai Bay.
  • Chicago-based designer Goettsch Partners (GP) has been commissioned by developer Guangzhou R&F Properties to design a mixed-use tower in Tianjin with office and retail space, a 400-room five-star hotel, and 55 luxury flats. The tower will be one of the tallest in China when it is completed in 2015.
  • In 2009, the Center for Asian Arts and Media at Columbia College Chicago, in collaboration with the Chicago Sister Cities International China Committee and the City of Chicago, hosted the Tianjin Dance Drama and Opera Troupe on tour from China for its first U.S. performance.
  • The Tianjin Climate Exchange (TCX) is a joint venture between Chicago Climate Exchange (25 percent stake), the municipal government of Tianjin (22 percent) and PetroChina (53 percent), the country’s largest oil and gas producer. TCX is a domestic carbon market cap-and-trade exchange.
  • The Pizza Box in Tianjin advertises "Chicago style stuffed pizza"


  • In 2008, the GDP of Hangzhou totaled RMB 478.1 billion, up 11 percent over the previous year, maintaining double-digit growth for 18 consecutive years.
  • The leading industries in Hangzhou include food, garment, textile, pharmaceuticals, electronics, machinery and chemicals.
  • In 2008, Hangzhou launched one of China's first government-sponsored bike-sharing programs called Hangzhou Public Bicycle Service with 8,100 bikes at 61 stations.


  • The Wall Street Journal has compared Chongqing to Chicago in that it is "an industrial gateway that opens the country to its vast, rural heartland." It has become China’s most populated municipality due to its strategic position on the Yangtze River.
  • In 2009, Chongqing's GDP grew 14.9 percent from the year before to RMB 652.9 billion, making it the largest economy in central and western China.
  • Major industries include automobiles, motorcycles and equipment manufacturing, electronic information, new materials, natural gas and petrochemicals. In 2009, these industries realized a gross industrial output of RMB 331.5 billion, accounting for 49.5 percent of the city's total industry.