City, business leaders to visit China
By LPR Staff
A group of community and business leaders will embark on a journey to the Far East, visiting Lockhart”s sister city of Shangyu, China.
“This trip to China is necessary to continue the relationship building that we began in January,” said Lockhart”s Economic Development Director Sandra Mauldin in a written statement last
month. “This will give us an opportunity to visit their home, experience their culture, and to learn more about their economy just as they did when they visited us.”
Mauldin, along with City Manager Clovia English, Mayor Jimmy Bertram and city councilmembers Kenny Roland and Frank Estrada will travel to Shangyu to discuss a number of potential business opportunities.
“We have appointments with four businesses with a high potential for recruitment,” Bertram said. “The delegation came to visit Lockhart, and were very impressed with the results of their visit. They have now invited us to visit them. Relationship building and friendship is important in many cultures before business negotiations or development can take place. We must go through the process to achieve the success we all seek. The City has given us our marching orders to attract industry. Economic Development is exactly what the citizens have told us to do.”
One of the prospects the Lockhart delegation will discuss while in China is a proposed business trade center, which will be built in the near future.
“These guys are coming to Texas, period.” Bertram said. “We”re going over there to show them how serious we are about having them come here.”
The proposed trade center is estimated to cost $8.4 million, will create 30 jobs with an annual payroll of $1.5, or an average annual salary of $50,128. Business visitors are estimated at a minimum of 4,500 per year spending $75 a day and totaling $337,500 impact on the local economy per year. LCRA summarizes the return on investment like the Chinese Trade Center Project to benefit the entire regional economy.
“This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for any community,” Bertram said. “We can”t afford to let it slip by.”
Although a number of private citizens will be joining the delegation for the trip, the City of Lockhart will not pay for their travel. According to Bertram, travel for the city council members and staff will be paid for by a combination of funds, some from the Lockhart Economic Development Corporation (financed by the half-cent sales tax), and some from the budget of the Economic Development department. Private citizens were responsible for paying their own way, and each member of the delegation paid the fees for their visas and passports.
“We have a responsibility to the taxpayers, and we take that responsibility seriously,” Bertram said. “We aren”t going to spend their money for a pleasure trip… and we aren”t going to spend their money for something that isn”t strictly for city business.”
Bertram and Mauldin both say that Governor Rick Perry”s office has been kept well-informed about the Lockhart delegation”s coming visit. The Governor”s Office of Economic Development is on board with the entire project, not only helping to pave the way for the trade center, but also providing the delegation with marketing materials.
“This is an investment that the community is making that will be well worth their while,” Bertram said. “Lockhart has never been in the position [to attract industry] that we”re in now, and we need to take advantage of that.”
Although the original plans called for an 11-day trip, Bertram, Roland and Estrad have chosen to cut their trip to five days to ensure that they are back in Lockhart in time for the Chisholm Trail Roundup.