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Hong Kong investors committed to coming.

Hong Kong investors committed to coming

Since 1984 Thunder Bay has been working to attract investment from the Far East and with some success.

Thunder Bay has 11 Hong Kong investors committed to moving to the city, with all of them currently in the immigration process.

It is hoped that the first of the investors will arrive by the spring of 1991.

"We want their brains. We want their drive," says P.R. Charbonneau, general manager of the Thunder Bay Economic Development Corporation.

Two promotional trips a year are made to the Orient, and Charbonneau notes that less than $100,000 has been spent in the six years of the marketing effort.

Entrepreneurs from Hong Kong have already set up a few operations in Thunder Bay, including a manufacturing operation which produces video cassette shells.

Charbonneau says the 11 Hong Kong investors are involved in small- to medium-sized high-tech manufacturing of plastics products.

He adds that the firms are at an advanced level of manufacturing.

Many already have a market base in North America.

Hong Kong is a gold mine of investors as many wealthy residents seek to relocate overseas in anticipation of the Chinese take-over of the British colony in 1997.

Mayor Jack Masters notes that efforts to attract investment to the city are also directed towards Japan and Korea.

"We're concentrating on the Orient, and we've had some success," he says.

In all, Masters says there will be 300 jobs created by oriental investment. "They're reasonably certain."

In all, there are currently about 240 manufacturing operations in Thunder Bay.

"Thunder Bay has always been somewhat more diversified economically than other cities in Northern Ontario," says Charbonneau.

The EDC's strategy has been to add at least 10 new manufacturing operations each year, Charbonneau says.

It also tries to assist 50 existing operations each year, either through expansions of existing operations or development of new markets.

About one-third of the projects are manufacturing, which yields about 60 per cent of the jobs, says Charbonneau. "That's where the pay-off has been in terms of employment."

There has always been a feeling that it is important to replace imports, he adds.


A recent market study in the chemical sector laid the ground-work for a potential enterprise, Charbonneau says. Three companies were interested, and two of those are racing to get involved.

The EDC has also looked at plastics and nutritive processing, which Charbonneau defines as doing something with the grain that passes through the port.

Right now most of the grain is simply sorted and moved through, he says. "That's not adding a great deal of value to the product."

The city is also looking at equipment manufacturing, transportation and service and manufacturing for the mining sector.

Masters notes that a German manufacturer of commercial fasteners will also be located in the city. The operation will employ about 75.

Masters expects three more plants to locate in the city next year.
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Title Annotation:Thunder Bay Report
Author:Bickford, Paul
Publication:Northern Ontario Business
Date:Nov 1, 1990
Previous Article:Grain prices and sales tumble.
Next Article:Ambitious list of projects contained in final report on waterfront rejuvenation.

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